E-Hand to Hand - November 2010 Issue
Why are Men Dying at a Faster Rate than Women?
Alarming statistics demonstrate that the health of males at every age is at great risk. In the United States, male deaths outnumber females in 14 of the top 15 causes of death (see right).
Heart disease is the top cause of death in both men and women. However, there is a 35 percent discrepancy in the rate between men and women, making men more susceptible to heart disease. Sources point to neglect in seeking preventive care as the number one reason men are more susceptible to heart disease than women.
Thirty-two-year-old Noe Rodriguez, a recent patient of El Buen Samaritano’s Wallace Mallory Clinic tells his story:
"I was only 13 years old when I had heart surgery due to a severe heart murmur. After my surgery, I was able to lead a healthy, normal life. Three years ago, I began experiencing numbness in my arms and legs. The numbness continued and progressively worsened, but I avoided going to the doctor because I was afraid of hearing bad news.
Now, at age 32 and a father to three young girls, I have seen no other alternative than to visit the doctor and have some tests done.
I hadn’t been to the doctor since my physical exam two years ago—after my wife, a former prenatal patient of El Buen, insisted so much I had no other choice but to go. I was told I needed to watch my cholesterol, but honestly, it’s really hard to do that when you lead a hectic work life. I know it’s not impossible to discipline yourself to eat healthy, but in my case, by the time I come home from work, my wife and I are too tired to plan for the next day’s meals. So, that’s been a challenge. One success I am proud of is that after 15 years of smoking I finally quit a-year-and-a-half ago.
I believe men find it especially difficult to seek medical assistance. It is instilled in our culture to seek home remedies and pain killers and not go to the doctor unless the problem exacerbates."
The second greatest health risk is cancer—men are 30 percent more likely to die of cancer than women. Colorectal cancer is the second most common cancer in both Latino men and women, being discovered at a later stage when it’s less treatable or the tumor has grown. According to the Fred Hutchison Cancer Research Center, Latinos are less likely to have ever received basic colon-cancer screening tests for a number of reasons. Some of these include lack of insurance, inability to afford medical care, reticence to spend money on preventative care, inability to take time off work, embarrassment and fears about cancer.
Not only is this population less likely to access medical care, they are also more likely to engage in behaviors that put them at risk for cancer, including colorectal cancer. Almost 80 percent of Latinos reported not getting enough fruit and vegetables (defined by the Texas Department of State Health Services as intake of less than five servings each day).
Barriers to Central Texans accessing timely colorectal care are many, with Latinos and people of low socioeconomic standing being hardest hit. According to the Fred Hutchison Cancer Research Center, Texas leads the nation in the number of uninsured individuals, with just over 25 percent of Texans being uninsured. In Travis County, almost two-thirds of Hispanics are uninsured. Additionally, men are significantly less likely to have health insurance than are women, (see graph below) and among people in poverty, men are much less likely to have health insurance (see graph below).
El Buen Samaritano has identified the need to expand its services to raise colon and prostate health awareness among the Latino male population, using an array of complimentary programs and services: the Wallace Mallory Clinic, Promotores de Salud (health educators) and Vida y Salud (Life and Wellness) Program. The Wallace Mallory Clinic is the only community health provider in Central Texas that by design offers culturally sensitive and bilingual primary and preventive medical services. Established in 1989, the clinic now serves approximately 4,500 individuals each year. Services are offered at a greatly reduced rate and specifically serve the needs of individuals who are uninsured.
In addition to direct health care services, El Buen Samaritano recruits, trains, and manages Promotores de Salud who inform and encourage their peers to take steps to live a healthier lifestyle. The agency’s Vida y Salud Program offers a variety of health-education workshops which focus on developing healthy eating habits, incorporating exercise into people’s lives, and monitoring and maintaining their health. These programs reach approximately 6,000 people each year.
Have you been to the doctor lately?
In 2008, in the interest of fulfilling its vision to strengthen and empower the entire family, El Buen Samaritano Episcopal Mission began a process to boost its health education outreach efforts toward men through a federally funded Title X family planning program. Thanks to this funding opportunity, in fiscal year 2010 (Oct. 2009-Sept. 2010), El Buen Smaritano’s Promotores de Salud reached out to nearly 1,000 males, providing them with information and guidance on family planning practices and resources.
In May 2010, thanks to a grant from the St. David’s Foundation, El Buen Samaritano added a full-time male physician to the Wallace Mallory Clinic, which helped bring a 289-percent increase in the number of male patients to the clinic.
“El Buen Samaritano is continuing to grow its efforts geared towards increasing health education outreach to men,” said Performance and Productivity Manager Marcos Marquez. “The agency has engaged with clients and patients to understand how it can better meet the needs of male patients, and based on their feedback, it will incorporate a male-friendliness plan which ensures that male inclusiveness is integrated into programs and services.”
Today, Noe is patiently awaiting his tests results while El Buen Samaritano considers possible funding opportunities so his three young daughters may have access to extended health services at the Wallace Mallory Clinic. For more information, click here or contact Alexis de Sela, interim director of health services.Share this...
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