MetroHealth Hosts Successful Multicultural Women's Health Fair & Empowerment Expo
More than 2,500 women from all corners of our community put a priority on their health and well-being by attending the inaugural Multicultural Women’s Health & Empowerment Expo on Saturday, September 30, at the Huntington Convention Center in downtown. The event, which was made possible by hundreds of MetroHealth volunteers and caregivers, delivered on its promise of being an affirming, uplifting and inspiring day for women in Northeast Ohio.
“Momentum begins with the moment. And THIS, ladies, is OUR moment,” MetroHealth President & CEO Airica Steed, Ed.D, RN, MBA, FACHE, told the audience during her welcoming remarks.
The free event, a collaboration between The MetroHealth System and the Vernon Family Foundation, featured health screenings, a job fair, inspirational speakers, educational health talks, live entertainment, vendors and so much more. MetroHealth caregivers conducted thousands of health screenings, including diabetes (A1C), blood pressure, cholesterol, complete blood counts, kidney function, vitamin D levels, hepatitis B and C, pregnancy, sickle cell and more – all provided at no cost.
Highlights of the day included:
- A special appearance from Cynthia Bailey, a nationally recognized media personality who has used her voice and social influence to advocate for women's health. Cynthia, who appeared in Bravo's "Real Housewives of Atlanta," has been candid about sharing her own health struggles over the years and supporting other women experiencing the same issues and pain.
- Keynote addresses from Susan “Dee” Haslam, CEO of the Haslam Sports Group; Nicole Ward, philanthropist and co-founder of the Make Them Know Your Name Foundation.
- Dynamic health talks featuring MetroHealth providers focused on pregnancy care, heart health, mental health, breast health and women’s cancer.
- On-site job interviews and employment resources with MetroHealth and more than a dozen other local organizations.
- Screenings of two powerful documentaries – “Below the Belt,” which exposes widespread problems in the health care system that disproportionately affect women; and “Black Women: Our Hope, Health and Healing,” which chronicles the challenges and barriers faced by Black women in Northeast Ohio.
- Live entertainment featuring acclaimed gospel singer Kierra Sheard-Kelly and much more.
During her remarks, Dr. Steed shared startling statistics that underscore the importance of this type of event and the MetroHealth’s commitment to advancing health equity and eradicating health disparities.
“Black women are three times more likely to die from pregnancy-related causes. And the tragic hand dealt to women of color goes far beyond maternal health,” Dr. Steed told the audience. “With almost every serious health care issue – from diabetes, to heart disease, to hypertension, to cancer, to Alzheimer’s disease, to mental health and addiction and so much more – women of color suffer – and die – at higher rates than other women.”
Dr. Steed’s passion to address health equities is borne of personal pain: She lost both her grandmothers, her mother, and younger sister due to inadequate care, misdiagnoses, and being denied access to timely screenings that may have saved their lives. She also experienced near-death preeclampsia during two pregnancies, a condition disproportionately affecting Black women.
“I know we cannot fix America’s broken health care system with one event on one day in one city. But I do know this: We can take the first step towards making a true difference,” Dr. Steed said of the expo.
After attending the expo, Phyllis Moore of Cleveland said she hopes even more women come to the event in the future. “This is an opportunity, and you should take advantage of it. You never know … through these screenings, what could be found.”
The free event was made possible thanks to hundreds of volunteers, providers and vendors and the generous support of several sponsors: KeyBank, signature sponsor; Saint Luke’s Foundation, premier sponsor; FirstEnergy and Cognizant, benefactors; and community sponsors Aetna Medicare Solutions, Boyd Watterson Asset Management LLC, CrossCountry Mortgage, Margaret W. Wong & Associates, Northeast Ohio Regional Sewer District and Pfizer Inc.
The event also built off the success of the MetroHealth Minority Men’s Health Fair, an annual event founded by Charles Modlin, MD, and held each spring that offers 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. Next year’s health fair will take place Thursday, April 25, 2024.
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.