Black men have the lowest life expectancy and the highest death rate in the United States among racial and ethnic groups, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 

Dr. Charles Modlin, medical director of MetroHealth’s Office of Inclusion, Diversity and Equity, wants to change this statistic. 

That’s why Modlin started the hospital’s annual Minority Men’s Health Fair. He said such events help address the disproportionate disease rates and poor health outcomes that impact African-American men. 

Compared to other groups, African Americans are at a greater risk of being diagnosed with heart disease, stroke and cancer, according to a 2019 report from the Office of Minority Health, part of the Department of Health and Human Services. 

Social barriers such as transportation issues to appointments, health illiteracy and lack of insurance keep minority men from seeking medical care, Modlin said. 

It’s very important that we specifically reach out to men of color to encourage them to undergo screenings for the early detection of disease,” he said. “What we’re trying to do is break down all the barriers that have prevented men in particular from undergoing screenings. We want to show them that they matter.”

Modlin also said distrust in the healthcare system plays a huge role in whether or not  minority men seek care. 

“Many men of color have actually shunned going to the doctor due to fear and anxiety, mistrust of doctors, nurses and the health care system,” Modlin said. 

Dr. Charles Modlin, Medical Director Office of Inclusion, Diversity and Equity stands in hospital's atrium.
Dr. Charles Modlin, Medical Director Office of Inclusion, Diversity and Equity stands in hospital’s atrium. Credit: MetroHealth System for Signal Cleveland

In 2022, a survey by Pew Research Center showed that 56% of Black adults say they have had at least one negative experience with doctors or healthcare providers at some point in their life. 

Forty percent of Black adults surveyed said they had to speak up to receive proper care, which was frequently cited in the survey as a negative experience in medical care.

On Thursday, April 27, men of color who live in Northeast Ohio can receive free health and wellness screenings from 5 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. at three of the hospital’s locations: Main Campus Outpatient Pavilion, Cleveland Heights Medical Center and Ohio City Health Center. 

This year’s fair will provide more than 30 different health screenings for conditions common among minorities, including diabetes, stroke, heart and vascular disease, high blood pressure, skin, lung, prostate and colorectal cancers, kidney disease and mental health concerns. 

A man gets his blood pressure checked by a nurse at MetroHealth's annual Minority Men Health Fair 2022.
A man gets his blood pressure checked by a nurse at MetroHealth’s annual Minority Men Health Fair 2022. Credit: MetroHealth System for Signal Cleveland

The fair is also offering free haircuts and refreshments, and men can attend educational workshops. They also can participate in a health screening aimed at addressing the social factors that contribute to an individual’s overall health and wellbeing. It’s being offered by the hospital’s Institute of H.O.P.E., a resource center located in the Clark-Fulton neighborhood. 

Minority women face similar challenges when it comes to accessing healthcare, Modlin said. 

The hospital also announced it would debut its Minority Women’s Health Expo in September at the Huntington Convention Center downtown. This effort is part of MetroHealth CEO Aricia Steed’s push to address health disparities in Cleveland.  

“She supports our main men’s health fair, but she’s very much excited for us to also be planning this event for women of color as well,” Modlin said.

The event is open to all with a focus on men and boys, primarily from underserved and minority communities. Walk-ins are welcome. However, attendees are encouraged to pre-register for the event at metrohealth.org/mmhf.

MetroHealth’s men’s health event details: 

When: Thursday, April 27, from 5 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. 

Where:

  • Main Campus Outpatient Pavilion, 3333 Metrohealth Drive, Cleveland, OH 44109
  • Cleveland Heights Medical Center, 10 Severance Circle, Cleveland Heights, OH 44118
  • Ohio City Health Center, 4757 Lorain Ave., Cleveland, OH 44102

How to attend: Register at metrohealth.org/mmhf

Health Reporter (she/her)
Candice, a Cleveland Documenter since 2020, has been a freelance writer whose reporting and digital media work have appeared in The Daily Beast, VICE, Cleveland Magazine and elsewhere. She has written about health, equity and social justice.