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Resource library an “oasis” for patients, families staying at University of Minnesota Medical Center

Tucked into the fifth floor of the University of Minnesota Medical Center, the library can help patients relax or access needed information.
Mary Clough (left) and Doretta Stark (right) were instrumental in the creation of the Patient Resource Library at the University of Minnesota Medical Center. Clough describes the library as an oasis for patients and families who need to relax.

An oasis.

That’s how Mary Clough and Doretta Stark describe the tranquil Patient Resource Center and Library on the fifth floor of University of Minnesota Medical Center.

Classical music floats through the small resource center and library on Tuesday, when Stark, a former social worker and volunteer, staffs the desk. A plate of cookies entices visitors, and an expansive view of the medical center campus provides a panoramic backdrop for visitors.

“Patients and families spend most of the time in a care room, where our focus is on sickness and health. But often they need a break from that; they need a place where they can be outside of the patient room environment,” said Clough, who is the University of Minnesota Health director of patient experience.

Clough is also a former chair of the Adult Patient Advisory Board, the volunteer group that was instrumental in the creation of the resource library. Stark, a former patient at the medical center, is currently a co-chair of the advisory board.

The Patient Resource Library is stocked with books, magazines, computers, DVDs, Playstation 2 gaming consoles and webcams for visitors' use.

Several years ago, the group considered developing a welcome center in the medical center lobby. Though that idea eventually fell through, a timely donation allowed the 15-member board to purchase computers, hardware and material to outfit the library, Clough said.

These days, the library is outfitted with PlayStation 2 consoles, DVDs, magazines and—of course—plenty of books. The library is meant as both an education and entertainment platform—and the genres lining the shelves include contemporary fiction, a spirituality section, children’s literature and other topics. All of the materials were donated by staff, families or other contributors.

Library volunteers can also direct patients to a list of helpful online resources for learning about conditions or diseases that may have affected them or their family members.

That information is critical, Stark and Clough said, because the library often serves as an information access point for patients and families who have been uprooted from their normal routines by a medical diagnosis.

”People often come here in emergency circumstances, and they come here not only from outside the Twin Cities area, but from other countries, so it’s helpful for them to be able to get oriented,” Stark said.

The library volunteers also operate a book cart that travels around the hospital once weekly. Patients can check out materials from the cart. The room also has outlets for phone charging and web cams.

The library is located in room 5-109 on the fifth floor of the University of Minnesota Medical Center, located on the East Bank of the medical campus. Hours fluctuate based on volunteer availability, but the room is typically open in the afternoons and evenings on weekdays, and during the morning and afternoon on weekends.