School clinic marks national health week for men and boys with free tests

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The boys and men came in one after another last week to the on-site health clinic at the Austin High School campus. Some needed a physical so they could play sports in the fall; others worried they might not be well but knew they should take the first step.

By week’s end, about 80 percent of the male visitors who received free heart checks and blood pressure exams as part of the clinic’s celebration of National Health Week for Men and Boys learned they had high blood pressure.

That’s why Circle Family HealthCare Network, which has operated a clinic on the Austin High School campus for the last year, offered the free tests to its male patients; health staff know that not enough African-American men regularly see a doctor even though they’re at higher risk for heart attacks, diabetes, obesity and a host of other serious conditions.

“Men in the black and Hispanic communities don’t get checked by doctors as much as they should,” said Theresa Hubbard, health education coordinator for Austin High School campus and Circle Family HealthCare Network. “I think there is a lack of knowledge regarding health concerns in minority communities like Austin.”

She said the purpose of last week’s free testing was to help black men realize how important their health is to them and the rest of the community.

“It is very important to get checked out annually due to the several health disparities that plague our community,” said Dia Hart, director of external affairs at Circle Family HealthCare Network. “I suspect that young black men don’t make their health a priority.”

Carlene Weaver, a medical assistant at the clinic, said many of the young men who stopped by last week weren’t as worried as the older male patients.

“I found it interesting that the older men – a few teachers, security guards and janitors – were more uneasy to get their tests read than the younger men,” Weaver said.

Hubbard said she was pleased with the results of the free clinic – the first held only for men. She said after each patient received his results, he received a ribbon acknowledging what for many could be the first step to living healthier lives.

“We were competing against the end of the school year, so we didn’t get anyone on Thursday or Friday,” she said. “We need to continue to do what is necessary to reassure that our young men at Austin High School and beyond realize that their health is their future. They have a lot to live for.”

Later this summer, Circle Family will hold two free health fairs – the first on July 28 at the Austin School Health Clinic, 231 N. Pine Ave., and the second on Aug. 11 at 4909 W. Division St., Suite 305. Call 773-379-1000 for more information. Both events will run from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.

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