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Stony Brook Medicine Helps Bring Vital Information To The Public Through Healthy Libraries Program

PORT JEFFERSON STATION, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) -- When the pandemic forced libraries to close across Long Island, many developed innovative ways to reach patrons while checking on their health and wellness.

At Comsewogue Public Library, knowledge exists in much more than just books. Inside a mobile service unit is a walking catalog of information.

As part of the Stony Brook Medicine Healthy Libraries Program, students offer everything from health screenings to assistance with unemployment.

"I offer social services," one student said.

"I offer evidence-based health information," another student said.

"I help and teach patrons about their medical diagnosis," another student said.

During the pandemic when physical libraries were closed, their virtual seminars became a vital tool for families desperate for guidance.

"The pressure of financial change, unemployment, food insecurity. So we really tied our experiences and expertise into the needs of the community," said Dr. Lisa Benz Scott, with Stony Brook Medicine.

The program's pivot to Zoom is one of many changes libraries across Long Island made during COVID to help patrons.

In Merrick and Farmingdale, libraries offered home delivery. Meanwhile, Oceanside provided virtual browsing via FaceTime.

Patrons like Jim Macinick took advantage of a free blood pressure screening Tuesday.

"This is something that you don't think of being offered in a library," Macinick told CBS2's Christina Fan.

He says innovative ideas like these help people who are intimidated or unsure of where to seek information.

"The library always makes people feel comfortable," he said.

The Healthy Libraries program reached over 900 people during the pandemic.

Beginning September, it will expand from five libraries to eight in Suffolk County.

To contact the team, email or call 631-216-8220.

CBS2's Christina Fan contributed to this report.

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