Pampering the men


Dr. Kevin McBride speaks during the Pampering the Brothers Health Forum at the Alachua County Health Department on Friday, January 25, 2008.

CHARLES ROOP/Special to the Guardian
Published: Thursday, January 31, 2008 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Wednesday, January 30, 2008 at 4:35 p.m.

Black men, as well as all blacks and people in general, need to assume more personal responsibility when it comes to their health care needs.

That was the consensus among three young black male health professionals at the “Pampering the Brothers” health forum held last Friday night at the Alachua County Health Department as the official end of King Celebration 2008 activities came to a close.

The event was sponsored by the Martin Luther King Jr. Commission of Florida Inc.

“If you show you are interested in your health care, health care professionals will treat you differently,” said Dr. Keith Chisholm, a 40-year-old general surgeon at Shands at AGH who received his medical degree from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in 1996. “It’s about taking personal responsibility in your health.”

Chisholm was joined on the panel by Dr. Samuel Jones III, 32, a local Walgreens pharmacist, and Dr. Kevin B. McBride, 48, who practices family medicine in Starke. The facilitator of the program was Gainesville resident Albert White, who conducts a class on colon cancer for the Shands Eastside Education and Community Outreach Program.

Close to 50 people, mostly women, attended the forum, but the information that was provided and topics discussed were invaluable. Each panelist spoke for 15 minutes before answering questions.

“I enjoyed all the information and everything,” said 57-year-old Alphonso Rawls. “This was very informative.”

Earnest McCray, 57, said he was also glad he attended the forum.

“I have enjoyed every bit of it,” McCray said. “It is really beneficial to me. I am diabetic, and I love to get as much information as I can about how to better take care of myself. I am also impressed by these young black doctors. They have been very informative in a way that I can understand.”

Chisholm, who was walking with crutches because of knee surgery two weeks ago, said when he had his surgery, some in the room knew he was a surgeon.

“You will get treated differently if people know your status,” Chisholm said. “If a doctor knows you are interested in your health, he will be more interested in your health.”

McBride agreed with Chisholm.

“Knowledge is your strength and your weapon,” McBride said. “If there is something you don’t understand and don’t know, you should ask questions. Don’t be intimidated about asking your doctors questions. As a people, we have been taught not to ask doctors questions. We need to break out of that and change that.”

McBride said no doctor should be offended by being asked a question by a patient.

Jones, the pharmacist, who was the first to speak, said people need to understand that there are a lot of things available to the community.

“There seems to be a lot of self-treatment that should not be happening,” Jones said. “There are ways you can get the things you need. Sometimes you can get medicine directly from pharmaceutical companies.”

He went on to talk about the dangers of getting prescriptions filled from different pharmacies with the hope of trying to save money. He said the advantage of having one pharmacist is that that pharmacist can tell you if you should go back to your doctor and ask him if a certain prescription goes along with another prescription that has been prescribed by another doctor.

“This is a business, and it is about moving products,” Jones said.

The other panelists agreed that it is a tough business.

“Surgery itself is a pretty big business,” said Chisholm. “Money and health are strange bedfellows. The more you can be an active participant in your own health care, the better off you will be.”

“The business of medicine is challenging,” added McBride.

The panel also urged black men to get regular physicals and to actively monitor their blood pressure and get checked for prostate and colon cancer at 35 and 45 years of age, respectively. The panelists said those diseases are all preventable.

At the end of the forum, Voncea Brusha, president of the Greater Gainesville Black Nurses Association, talked about the importance of lifting the spirits of black men.

She urged everyone in attendance to form a circle around the Rev. Kevin Thorpe, pastor of Faith Missionary Baptist Church and chaplain of the King Commission, and to extend words of encouragement to each other.

“This is an opportunity to share positive and uplifting thoughts with each other,” Brusha said.

Rodney Long, president of the King Commission, addressed the crowd and gave words of encouragement.

“Though there are not many of us here tonight, those of us who are can go and spread the word about what we have learned here tonight,” Long said. “I encourage you all to keep talking to the brothers about health care. We must tell the young brothers about the effects of the things they are putting in their bodies today that will affect them tomorrow.”

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