NBTF launches health initiative to examine disparities

Photo by Ashlea H. Jones– Dr. Patricia Flowers

NBTF launches health initiative to examine disparities
August 10
04:00 2017

By Ashlea Howard Jones

For The Chronicle

The National Black Theater Festival (NBTF) concluded the week on Saturday with a health initiative centered around two plays produced by the North Carolina Black Repertory Company that tackled health disparities within the African-American community.

The health initiative, which began at 11 a.m. on Saturday, Aug. 5, featured live music, breast cancer screenings and medical consultations.

Wake Forest Baptist Health Alzheimer’s Disease Center sponsored the NBTF play “Maid’s Door,” which examined how Alzheimer’s affects the black community.

“We were thrilled to be partners with the Black Repertory because it is important to get the word out,” said Deb Burcombe, program director of outreach for the Sticht Center for Healthy Aging & Alzheimer’s Prevention at Wake Forest Baptist Health. “African-Americans have a double risk of getting Alzheimer’s disease. We are proactive in finding a cure for this disease. Plays like ‘Maid’s Door’ help to start the conversation.”

Novant Health Mobile Mammography unit was also onsite handing out information and giving free breast exams.

The Office of Cancer Health Equity, who partnered with the Black Repertory to produce “The Sting of White Roses” – which centered around the effects of a breast cancer diagnosis on a family – and the Shades of Hope African-American Outreach Committee of the Susan G. Komen Northwest N.C. region were available to answer questions about health disparities.

“We’re diagnosed at the same rate as Caucasian and Hispanic women, but we’re dying at a higher rate. That’s because of a lack of information,” says Dr. Patricia Flowers, with the Shades of Hope outreach committee. “Health providers aren’t always culturally competent. Hold them accountable, ask questions, get a second opinion.”

“Novant Health has various grants that help people to get mammograms as long as they have a doctor,” says Hazel Willis, community outreach for Novant Health. “Winston-Salem has three free clinics – Rescue Mission, Southside Baptist, and the Health Department. Women should have a screening every year starting at age 40 no matter what anyone says. I don’t want someone dying of breast cancer because they don’t have insurance.”

Statistically, white women have a higher rate of breast cancer diagnosis than black women, but black women die at a higher rate from the disease. Health care professionals believe it is because black women wait too long out of fear of the diagnosis or insurance issues.

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