The Goal is Healthcare Equality for Everyone
Charles Modlin, MD, envisions Cleveland Clinic leading the charge to eliminate healthcare disparities nationwide. And why not? It’s already addressing the problem on a local level with the Cleveland Clinic Minority Men’s Health Center, a unique program housed within the Glickman Urological & Kidney Institute.
“What better place than Cleveland Clinic to eliminate healthcare disparities? It’s a leader in virtually every area of medicine,” says Dr. Modlin, a kidney transplant surgeon, urologist, and founder and director of the Minority Men’s Health Center.
He had the idea for the center about a decade ago after living in Chicago (where he received his undergraduate and medical degrees from Northwestern University) and New York City (where he completed a six-year residency at New York University). In both cities, he saw that certain segments of the population, particularly African American males, were not benefiting from the healthcare system.
Many black men have little or no access to healthcare, and even when they do have access, they don’t trust physicians and healthcare institutions because of a perceived lack of cultural sensitivity, Dr. Modlin says. Because they don’t get routine health screenings, which can be life-saving early in the course of a disease, their life expectancies are seven to eight years shorter than that of whites.
To address this problem, Cleveland Clinic launched its Minority Men’s Health Fair in 2003 and made it an annual event, offering free, comprehensive health screenings, ranging from prostate exams to vision and dental checkups. The Minority Men’s Health Center opened in June of 2004, offering weekly clinics and charity assistance, and doing community outreach in the form of educational health talks and screenings.
A National Destination
In addition to being a “port of entry to the healthcare industry” for underserved populations in Northeast Ohio, the center has the potential to become a destination for minority patients from all over the country, Dr. Modlin says. He has found no other program similar to that of Cleveland Clinic’s. “My aim is to take it nationally based on the groundwork we’ve laid,” he says. “I’m energized and enthused about taking that extra step.”
Warren Anderson, who supports the Minority Men’s Health Center, is equally enthusiastic. When he first heard about the center from Dr. Modlin and Andrew Novick, MD, the late chairman of the institute, Mr. Anderson thought it was a great idea. “As black males, we tend not to take advantage of the health system, and we ignore certain symptoms when we do not have access to healthcare,” he says.
World-Class, and Growing
Mr. Anderson, the co-founder and president of Anderson-DuBose Company, a Solon, Ohio- based distribution business, has been on the Glickman Urological & Kidney Institute National Leadership Board for six years. “I think that it’s a fantastic institute that has grown tremendously in stature, number of physicians and technology,” he says. “We have a world-class urological hospital in our midst.”
As the Minority Men’s Health Center grows, it will help raise the institute’s stature even further, Dr. Modlin believes. For him, the center is a personal as well as professional endeavor. A comment that his father made echoes in his mind: “My father told me that nobody cares about black men,” he recalls. That belief, shared by many in his father’s generation, is one that Dr. Modlin wants to change.
Contributions by Mr. Anderson and others will help him do that. “I’m using my medical education to have a positive impact on eliminating healthcare disparities,” Dr. Modlin says. “My upbringing taught me to believe it is my responsibility to do what I can to help those less fortunate than myself.”
To make a gift supporting the Minority Men’s Health Center, the Glickman Urological & Kidney Institute or any area of Cleveland Clinic, visit iSupport, our secure online giving site, or call Institutional Relations and Development at 216.444.1245 or toll-free at 800.223.2273, ext. 41245.