Friday, December 14, 2012

ARCH helps seniors find answers to health questions


ACCESS TO INFORMATION: Sun and Castellanos


The number of websites touting the latest and best health information can be overwhelming – especially for seniors with limited knowledge of how to find the most reliable resources. That’s why Chelsea residents Herminda Castellanos and her friends at the Chelsea Senior Center are especially pleased to now have six new computers and a dedicated website from ARCH (Access to Resources for Community Health) to access vetted health information.

“I want to thank Mass General Hospital and ARCH because it’s very important for us to learn about so many things. You can find out about diabetes, high blood pressure, arthritis and stroke. It’s very helpful,” Castellanos said during the ARCH 12th anniversary celebration held Dec. 5 at the senior center.

For more than a decade, ARCH, managed by MGH Community Health Associates, has focused on reaching out to vulnerable populations in the communities served by MGH health care centers. The ARCH website, at, simplifies Internet searches for trustworthy health information and prevents users from having to wade through thousands of pages of online information. It also features links to highly respected, reliable health information in several languages in addition to English.

Elizabeth Schneider, director of the MGH Treadwell Library, who also spoke at the event, said the unveiling of the computers during the event made for a lasting memory. “It was so moving and gratifying to hear the members of the Chelsea Senior Center talk about how helpful and wonderful it was to have access to such good health information on the ARCH site,” she said. “They were so grateful, and it was a classic example of how so little can go so far to make a big difference in people’s lives. I feel privileged to be part of this 12-year journey with ARCH.”

ARCH is a collaboration among MGH Community Health Associates, the Treadwell Library, and community-based organizations with support from the National Library of Medicine, New England Region. The ARCH-Chelsea Senior Center Project is the fourth ARCH community outreach project, with prior projects implemented in collaboration with Jack Satter House in Revere, CAPIC Head Start in Chelsea, and Revere Elderly Affairs. All the projects supported not only purchase of brand new computer equipment for these community-based agencies but also hands-on ARCH training – on using the website as well as tips about safe search and use of health information online – to their staff and clients. 

For more information about ARCH, contact Ming Sun, community health educator at MGH Community Health Associates, at (781) 485-6477 or

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