2023 Minority Men's Health Fair: 'This is Quite a Blessing'
This year's MetroHealth Minority Men's Health Fair was an extraordinary success, as more than 700 men from our community accepted the invitation to prioritize their own health and wellness.
The health fair, which took place Thursday, April 27, was hosted at three MetroHealth locations: Main Campus, Cleveland Heights Medical Center and Ohio City Health Center. The event offered education and more than 30 free screenings for health issues prevalent in minority men, including prostate cancer, diabetes, high blood pressure, skin cancer, mental health concerns and other conditions. Though the health fair was geared toward men of color, all were welcome.
Prentiss Wenson, who attended the health fair at the Cleveland Heights Medical Center location, said one reason for coming was to get blood work. He appreciated the convenience of having all the screenings available in one place at one time and said the health fair is especially needed in the Black community.
"Even though we see a lot of men out here (at the health fair), for every one man who's here, there's probably three who think, 'I don't need that,'" he said.
At the Ohio City Health Center, Cleveland resident Demetriceous Ghee explained that he had not seen a doctor since before the COVID-19 pandemic. He was grateful for the screening opportunities at the health fair.
"This is quite a blessing," Ghee said. "I've been concerned about my blood pressure since before COVID. And then I lost my job. If this wouldn't have been here, I probably wouldn't have (seen a provider). Now that I'm here, I can establish a relationship with MyChart and MetroHealth services. It opens the door."
Charles Modlin, MD, the health fair's founder and MetroHealth's Medical Director of Equity, Inclusion and Diversity, said he is confident the event saved lives.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, men of all backgrounds are more than 37% less likely than women to get regular medical checkups and follow up with their health care providers. As a result, illnesses are often diagnosed at later stages, leading to poorer outcomes. This has an impact on longevity. The CDC reports that, in 2021 (the latest data available), the life expectancy for men was 5.9 years lower than that of women – the largest longevity gap in 25 years.
With initiatives like the Minority Men's Health Fair, MetroHealth aims to help change those statistics, Dr. Modlin said.
"The Minority Men's Health Fair empowers men to know their risks and take control of their health, so they can live life to the fullest," he said.
Among the many sponsors who helped make this year's Minority Men's Health Fair a success were First Energy Foundation, Saint Luke's Foundation and KeyBank. They were joined by dozens of community partners who set up tables to offer health-related education and services. In addition, several hundred volunteers from MetroHealth and the community made the event possible.
And several MetroHealth employees came for themselves.
Donta Harris, 31, who works as an LPN in correctional medicine, said it had been several years since he had been proactive in his own health. He visited the Main Campus location to get health screenings, including lab work and an eye exam.
"Since I was in high school, I've just been working, working, working," he said. "I haven't been really on top of my health. But now, I will follow up with my doctor."
Representatives from health care organizations from throughout Northeast Ohio were present to offer attendees information and educational materials or simply to have a conversation.
Dwain Ross II, Communications Coordinator for the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) of Greater Cleveland, said the Minority Men's Health Fair was an opportunity to reach an audience that often does not seek help for mental health.
"In the Black community, with mental health and health in general, there is an idea that if you're going through something, you'll be looked at as weak," Ross said. "That's something you don't want to be accused of because you are supposed to be strong. Everything is supposed to be perfect in the Black community because we have to go two times, three times, four times as hard to accomplish the same as our counterparts. There's a stigma, and the idea that you could be seen as being weak or inferior. So you suffer in silence. It's a lack of education; a lack of conversation."
Building upon the success of the Minority Men's Health Fair, MetroHealth will for the first time host a Minority Women's Health Expo on September 30 at the Huntington Convention Center of Cleveland.
"Every person – regardless of their skin color, where they live or their economic circumstances – deserves to have a chance at a long, healthy life," said MetroHealth President & CEO Airica Steed, Ed.D, RN, MBA. "At MetroHealth, we are committed to giving a voice to the voiceless and ensuring everyone is empowered to advocate for their own health needs. These events are among the many ways MetroHealth is working tirelessly to eradicate health disparities and advance equity in the communities we serve."
Founded in 1837, MetroHealth is leading the way to a healthier you and a healthier community through service, teaching, discovery, and teamwork. Cuyahoga County’s public, safety-net hospital system, MetroHealth meets people where they are, providing care through four hospitals, four emergency departments, and more than 20 health centers and 40 additional sites. Each day, our 8,000 employees focus on providing our community with equitable health care–through patient-focused research, access to care, and support services–that seeks to eradicate health disparities rooted in systematic barriers. For more information, visit metrohealth.org.