Men of color have “higher overall rates of death than white males and a higher rate of preventable diseases.” (1) In addition, “men of color suffer from higher rates of poverty, unemployment, incarceration, and discrimination than their white counterparts.” (2) With the strains on the safety net, those most likely to lose coverage are men. In Florida, single men who are legal residents or citizens do not have the option of applying for Medicaid or cash assistance; undocumented men have no insurance coverage option and have no access to the safety net coverage system.
As part of the Kellogg Men’s Health Project, CVM and the Overtown Civic Partnership and Design Center (OCPDC) are working together in the neighborhood of Overtown to better understand the status of men’s health in this distressed community. Miami’s Overtown, a historically African-American neighborhood, is currently one of the lowest urban wage centers in the country, with an average median income of approximately $13,000 for a family of four. Different efforts throughout the past two decades have not provided the necessary infrastructure or outcomes for improving health and well-being for this community.
The OCPDC and CVM, both projects of the Collins Center for Public Policy, Inc., share a belief that improving a neighborhood’s health profile is integral to community development. To this end, the Overtown Men’s Health Study centers on a detailed, highly sensitive survey instrument which is administered to men ages 18 and older to assess health status, behaviors, knowledge, and access to care. In the course of this academically rigorous study, we are capturing other data that will provide a richer picture of the nature of men’s social and economic experiences in Overtown. Through this work, we are learning about their experiences with incarceration, homelessness, police-involvement, education and employment.
There has been much hypothesizing and speculation about these questions. However, through this unprecedented study, the Collins Center is gathering valuable direct data about men’s experiences in a distressed inner-city neighborhood. Data collection is currently underway.
Through OCPDC, CVM is reaching out to the community of Overtown to uncover the main health and wellness issues, to seek innovative means of addressing them, and to facilitate the implementation of solutions. CVM’s policy goals for men’s health are to work with community stakeholders to:
- Increase awareness of health issues unique to men, both among men in distressed communities and at the policy making levels;
- Increase awareness among men of the importance of accessing preventive and primary health care and enhance their capacity to do so;
- Develop and advocate insightful alternatives to the lack of publicly funded programs (e.g. Medicaid) for men;
- Provide compelling evidence of the relationship between a physiologically, behaviorally, and mentally healthy community and the successful economic redevelopment of distressed neighborhoods.
Other Men's Health Initiatives in Community Voices sites across the country:
Baltimore City Health Department. The Baltimore Health Departzment has chosen to establish a freestanding Men's Health Center serving a population that is 98% African American and suffers from chronic conditions like hypertension, diabetes, asthma, substance abuse and sexually transmitted disease. Located in the Sandtown-Winchester community, the Men's Health Center is a full-service primary care facility that provides health care at no charge to uninsured males, ages 19 to 64. Through this initiative, the center's sponsors aim to create a health home for men, avoid expensive emergency room use, improve health status and serve as a catalyst for policy innovation. For more information, contact Sherry Adeyemi (410) 396-4502.
Boston Public Health Commission. Outreach is a hallmark of the Boston program. The Boston Public Health Commission is training young men of color to be community health workers; implementing case management teams and developing a Young Men's Health Coalition. HealthCREW aims to create a unique brand of community worker who can apply a holistic framework to men's health through a 9-month training program culminating in certification and placement inn community based organizations after graduation. In addition, two case management teams will be established in conjunction with men's clinics at a hospital and a community health center. The teams work with men coming out of jail to link them to health care in the community and with victims of violence to address their many needs while connecting them to health care services. For more information, contact Dr. John Rich at (617) 534-7148 or (617) 534-2662.
Delta Community Partners in Care, Clarksdale, Mississippi. In the Mississippi Delta, a predominantly African American area with 25% uninsurance and over 40% poverty, this program is developing a comprehensive men's health delivery system. They are developing male-dedicated entry points using outreach and case management, allocating specific days in the three participating primary care clinics for male services and conducting community-wide screening and education. For more information, contact Lela Keys at (662) 624-3484.
Denver Health. Denver's comprehensive safety-net health system, consisting of the public hospital, community and school based health centers, the local public health department, and other specialized programs, serves over 25% of the city's residents. Denver Health is employing male community outreach workers to increase access for underserved men, three-quarters of who are minority. The Men's Health Initiative aims to improve health outcomes by increasing access to primary care for underserved men through community-based screenings, outreach, and enrollment and case management. Additionally, a network of preferred providers for men and best practices for conditions unique to men have been developed. For more information, contact Dr. Richard Wright at (303) 436-6850.
Grady Teen Services, Atlanta, Georgia. The Grady Health System, Atlanta's hospital for the indigent, is focusing on adolescent males and reproductive health. The program is centrally located in downtown Atlanta, providing group educational sessions and counseling for adolescent males and their partners. It aims to reduce the rate of unintended pregnancy, sexually transmitted infections, and violence against women and to improve the health of young men and increase their awareness of family well-being. For more information, contact Marie E. Mitchell at (404) 616-3543.
J.A. and Ro, M. “A Poor Man’s Plight:
Uncovering the Disparity in Men’s Health,” A
series of Community Voices Publications.