Project Brotherhood: A Black Man’s Clinic
Purpose: Improve the health of underserved black men
Target Population: Black men in the South Side area of Chicago
Results: Through June 2002, more than 2,500 men have been screened for diabetes, hypertension and other diseases since the program’s inception. Physician office no-show rates have declined among members and attendance at monthly seminars and health fairs continues to rise
The life expectancy of black men nationally is decreasing, even as it continues to rise for the U.S. population at large.
Focus groups conducted in 1998 by Woodlawn Health Center of Cook County; a member of the Cook County Bureau of Health Services’ Ambulatory and Community Health Network, and the University of Chicago among a diverse group of black males on the South Side revealed that black men felt disrespected by the health care system, yet trusted the women in their lives for advice and attention to their health.
Building on these findings, Project Brotherhood: A Black Man’s Clinic opened in November 1998, supported by a partnership between two affiliates of the Cook County Bureau of Health Services — the Ambulatory and Community Health Network (ACHN) and the John H. Stroger Jr. Hospital of Cook County, as well as other local safety net providers. The Clinic is staffed full-time by two black male health / outreach professionals, along with a part-time staff of four black male social workers and a barber. Physicians, social workers, administrators, and other support staff from Stroger Hospital and the Ambulatory and Community Health Care Network provide additional assistance.
Project Brotherhood has developed a new model of care that provides black men with primary, holistic health services, and improves health awareness. It also serves as a delivery point for health education within an interdisciplinary team framework, and as a focal point for strengthening community ties. There are also informal seminars covering such diverse topics as STDs. prostate cancer, fatherhood, substance abuse, healthy nutrition, and anger management. While the men talk a barber gives haircuts, giving the discussions the tone of a barbershop rap session. Facilitated by trained social workers and physicians, these forums also serve as referral points for health and social services.
A comprehensive physical exam is offered to all participants, encouraging members to form a relationship with a primary care provider. The no-show rate for visits to physicians is just 23 percent among members — about half the rate for Woodlawn patients in general.
Other Project Brotherhood services are varied and far-reaching, and include resume and job search assistance, HIV/AIDS education, referrals for ex-offenders and wards of the state who have reached their eighteenth birthday, a “Rite of Passage” group focused on the responsibilities of black men, a violence prevention training curriculum, health fairs and screenings, and voter registration.
Complementing Project Brotherhood are the “4 Men Only” seminars and discussion groups held monthly at Provident Hospital of Cook Countx; another affiliate of the Cook County Bureau of Health Services. The monthly seminars each attract 25-30 participants and focus on such topics as the benefits of exercise, domestic violence and violence prevention, and meditation. An annual health fair draws more than 200 participants.
Through Project Brotherhood and 4 Men Only more than 2,500 men have been screened for diabetes, hypertension and other diseases.
Bonnie Thomas, MD, Project Brotherhood, Tel: 312/747.7705
Lester Wright, MD, 4 Men Only, Tel: 312/572.2657