Terry Jowers and Dr. Guillermo Wippold were inspired to work together after a common observation. Only about a quarter of people who attend health check-ups and health promotion events are men.
Mr. Jowers is the interim executive director of the South Carolina Community Health Workers Association (SCCHWA) from 2012 to 2023, and is the executive director of Healthy, a grassroots organization dedicated to improving the health of under-resourced communities in the city. He served on the Columbia Board of Directors. He is a researcher in South Carolina with a strong interest in community-based interventions.
“Healthy Columbia was conducting weekly health screenings in under-resourced areas,” Jowers said. “What we saw year after year was that the numbers were consistent. About 75% were women and 25% were men, but in reality the men we met were older and had major health problems. They often have problems and don’t find out until later when they have a lot of complications.”
Wipold, who led health promotion efforts at YMCAs, clinics and majority-black churches in Florida and Kansas before coming to South Carolina, noticed the same thing.
“There were very few men attending these health promotion events,” he says.
Once Wippold arrived in South Carolina, he began looking for a regional partner to continue his work. He soon discovered Healthy Columbia and contacted Jowers.
When the two met, they realized they had a common interest in improving the involvement of people of color in health screenings and events, and through the South Carolina Clinical Translational Research Institute (SCTR) community, they funded a pilot project. I applied for and received it in 2020. -Engaged Scholars Program (CES-P).
The program, which is currently accepting applications, will fund pilot projects led by teams comprised of both community advocates and academic researchers. The goal is to improve health outcomes, especially for people who lack resources.
“The beauty of this program is that it encourages input from local stakeholders, including those directly affected by health disparities and those living in highly rural and under-resourced areas. Nichols said, “It’s important for people in the community to have input into how research is conducted.” D., who directs CES-P.
“Health information needed to come from people who looked like us, had similar life experiences, and were trained to provide appropriate information and guidance.”
— Terry Jowers
Wippold and Jowers are extremely grateful for the funding that made it possible to launch the project, but perhaps most grateful for the continued guidance that the program and its leadership continue to provide. Mr. Jowers said he is particularly indebted to Dr. Melvin, the late Kathy, who directed SCTR’s community engagement program at the time of Mr. Jowers and Mr. Wyppold’s CES-P award.
“Kathy Melvin was an incredible person. What a great loss to South Carolina and to the MUSC family,” Jowers said. “That was a special blessing to us because she was kind and generous and very wise.”
Jowers and Wipold knew that the first step to addressing disparities in access to preventive health services was to listen to men. With pilot funding from CES-P, they recruited a core leadership team of five Black men from two of South Carolina’s poorest counties, Aiken and Barnwell counties, to develop survey questions. , provided the necessary training to 22 other counties to enable them to conduct the survey. black man One of the most important themes that emerged was that men prefer peer-to-peer health education, meaning they prefer to get their health information from other Black men.
“Health information needed to come from people who looked like us, had similar life experiences, and were trained to provide appropriate information and guidance,” Jowers says.
For Jowers, community health workers (CHWs) fit that bill perfectly.
“Community health workers are definitely experts in lived experience,” she said. “We’ve been there. We’ve done it. We’ve struggled to pay the rent. We’ve struggled to keep the lights on. We’ve struggled to keep the lights on. , I’ve struggled to decide between putting food on the table and buying medicine. And because of that lived experience, there’s an almost divine level of trust that comes with it.”
Unfortunately, only about 11% of South Carolina’s current community health workers are men. SCCHWA is actively pursuing ways to address that disparity. Encouragingly, two faculty members at South Carolina State University (SCSU), a historically black university, recently received funding from the National Institutes of Health to implement a CHW training program. The South Carolina Community Health Worker Certification Council has approved SCSU’s Core Competency Training Program and to date he said SCSU has trained more than 50 of her students, including 11 Black men. Ta.
Jowers and Wipold made the data from their study available to the SCSU team and other teams seeking grants to fund interventions to address the problem. For example, when Jowers and Wipold presented their research earlier this year at the annual meeting of the National Association of Community Health Workers, about 20 people in the audience spoke to the leadership to find ways to recruit more male CHWs. We agreed to form a team. They are using data from Jowers and Wippold to apply for funding for their efforts.
“We have a misconception that the public needs to adapt to our health services. Rather, health services need to adapt to the people they serve.”
— Dr. Guillermo Wipold
SCCHWA is state-funded to improve men’s health in four under-resourced South Carolina counties with large black populations: Allendale, Barnwell, Bamburg, and Orangeburg. The ABO initiative uses a peer-to-peer model to send health messages to men of all ages. Former Barnwell Mayor Marcus Rivera has joined the initiative’s core leadership team, working with young black men who are trying to change health norms before they become ingrained. For older black men, an event-based intervention is planned and will also rely on a peer-to-peer model.
The effort was heartbreaking for Jowers and Wipold, who recently lost two men who helped them with their project. Williston City Councilman William Toney Jr., who suffered from undiagnosed congestive heart failure, died last year at the age of 49. Two-term Johnston Mayor Terrence Culbreath, who had a history of heart disease, died in December 2022 from a gigantic heart. Attack at age 39.
“These Black men in my life feel like their health is declining because of their race and lack of access to help,” Jowers said. “For me, it really drove home the urgency of what we’re trying to get here.”
To address access issues, Wippold secured a grant for a barbershop-based intervention for black men in Sumter and directed the Patient Centered Outcomes Institute to develop a statewide barbershop network that could be used for peer-to-peer assistance. We have applied for funding to establish it. Peer health education.
“How great would it be to integrate that network of barbers with the efforts led by SCCHWA,” he said.
Ms. Jowers was recently invited by SCTR to serve on the Community Advisory Board, where she will provide input into the program from a community perspective. She doesn’t take the role lightly.
“When you really understand what’s going on in your community, when you understand that it’s not coming from inside a large medical institution, but when you understand that it’s actually happening outside of your neighborhood, your garage or your basketball court, you’re going to have a voice.” We have to raise it,” Jowers said. “We’ve had this broken model for so long that we need health care providers to come to us. If we’re really going to practice public health, we have to go where the public is. ”
Wippold couldn’t agree more.
“We have a misconception that the public needs to adapt to our health services,” he says. “Instead, health services need to adapt to the people they serve.”