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A visit to the University of Chicago Medicine's booth at the 2018 Black Women's Expo for free health advice quickly turned into a wake-up call for Pat Morehead of South Holland to take better control of her diabetes.
“They were very helpful and really able to give me some input on my situation,” she said. “I am diabetic and going into second-stage kidney failure. The doctors emphasized staying on top of my diet. If I can do that, I have a chance to reverse it.”
Morehead was one of more than 30,000 attendees who roamed the aisles of the expo at McCormick Place from April 6 to 8, 2018. The 24th annual event, which focuses on the African American consumer, engaged participants through speakers, seminars and booths, showcasing information and the latest services, products and trends. This year’s theme was “She Matters,” a tribute to the importance of African American women’s strength and health.
Some attendees stopped by UChicago Medicine's booth to talk to cardiologist Ankur Shah, MD, and primary care specialist Paula Bey, MD. The two helped to staff the popular “Ask the Doctor” sessions during the three-day event.
UChicago Medicine has been participating annually as part of its mission to serve the health needs of the community and to honor the power of different backgrounds and perspectives.
“Being in an environment like this is a great way to connect with the community and to build upon the University of Chicago Medicine goals,” said Shah, who returned for a second consecutive year to the Black Women’s Expo. “One of the barriers for health care is that people often feel intimidated. I think you crack through that with a friendly conversation.”
Being in an environment like this is a great way to connect with the community and to build upon the University of Chicago Medicine goals.
UChicago Medicine also provided a variety of health-themed resources, including a blood pressure screening station, discussion clinic on heart disease and stroke, and a House Music Fitness Party. It also showcased a new partnership with the WNBA’s Chicago Sky as the team’s official medical provider and sponsor.
Other UChicago Medicine physicians and health experts — such as Monica Christmas, MD, director of the Menopause Program — participated on panels on topics including heart disease and women's health and the importance of healthy lifestyles and exercise. .
Black women have higher rates of many illnesses, such as hypertension, breast cancer at young ages, diabetes, stroke and lupus, according to a national Black Women’s Health Study released by the Slone Epidemiology Center at Boston University.
UChicago physicians Shah and Bey greeted attendees and answered questions from many women seeking ways to take charge of their health.
“This isn’t a dress rehearsal,” Morehead said. “I have one time to get a handle on my health.”
Bey emphasized to Morehead the importance of getting support to allow her a break to keep her medical appointments and take quality care of herself.
“Morehead is a typical patient,” Bey said. “Her experiences are affected by managing the care of her family, the stress from caring for a sick spouse and neglecting herself to care for others.”
Shah said he was impressed that Morehead wanted answers to get better. “She was aware of what had gotten out of control,” he said. “She had a goal. She just needed a little bit more guidance and education. For a patient to be engaged, you can’t ask for anything more than that.”
The Urban Health Initiative (UHI) is UChicago Medicine’s community health department through which population health and community benefit are administered.Learn about our community health department