Impacting the disparities gap: Effective community outreach programs

SEPTEMBER 11, 2008
L. Neicey Johnson, JD, BSN, Vice-President, Public Affairs, Association of Black Cardiologists, Inc

During the past 33 years, the Association of Black Cardiologists, Inc. (ABC) has been forging its mission “…to make exemplary health care accessible and affordable to all in need.” With its strong focus on community programs, having pioneered the first church-based health promotion initiative in 1979, the ABC in 2006 relaunched an aggressive 1988-community outreach program titled Super Weekend.

The Super Weekend is an intense educational weekend aimed at community leaders, physicians, and the community at large. This industry-sponsored program consists of health education presentations and professional symposia, interactive discussions, and health assessments and screenings. The core program content is developed by key opinion leaders of the ABC around the sponsor’s key message, and ensures the most up-to-date guidelines and recommendations for lifestyle modification and treatment are presented in a format appropriate for all audiences. This 3-day event brings awareness, education, and screenings to local communities and health care providers with 4 population-targeted programs:  

1. Leaders’ forum—designed to empower community leaders (religious, business, and political) who influence the thoughts and behaviors of the members of that community with knowledge to promote healthy lifestyles;

2. Physician continuing medical education symposia—offers the most up-to-date information on cardiovascular disease diagnosis, treatment, and technologies, as well as accredited continuing medical educational for health care providers;

3. Super Saturday education and screening events—these educational and screening events target the community at large, providing interactive and didactic education by local health and celebrity presenters, as well as free biometric screening for blood pressure, blood glucose, blood cholesterol, and body mass index. All screening participants receive individual counseling from health care providers on their personal results with emphasis on practical tips for risk factor modification; physician and urgent care referrals are done as appropriate.

The final component is:
4. Super Sunday mini-sermons—culminates the weekend with a scripted mini health message (mini-sermon) presented at select church congregations; presentations are facilitated by local physicians and/or ABC members. All attendees receive bookmarks highlighting the ABC’s 7 Steps to a Healthy Heart.

These 7 steps encourage participants to:
• Be spiritually active
• Take charge of blood pressure
• Control cholesterol
• Track blood sugar
• Eat smart and enjoy regular exercise
• Don’t smoke
• Access better health care and take medications as prescribed

The ABC believes that following these simple principles will not only improve cardiovascular risk factors, but will improve overall health and quality of life, ensuring that all have a healthy heart.

With the support of industry, the 14- month relaunch touched more than 20,000 lives and screened more than 2500 individuals during a 10-city tour. In an effort to build on this success, the 2007 Super Weekend tour is currently being planned for late spring/early summer in Boston, Mass; Columbus, Ohio; Dallas, Tex; Memphis, Tenn; and Phoenix, Ariz. For more information about the ABC and its community outreach programs, please contact the ABC at 800-753-9222 or www.abcardio.org



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