Abbott: What are some of the efforts NCUS has undertaken with others to improve health in the community?
Gregory: We do walks — and actually they're 5K walks and runs — but the whole issue is around health, around Black men. Black men live two years shorter than white men. We’re really doing an awareness campaign to bring attention that Black men can live longer if they know their numbers and do the things they need to do. So we’re organizing communities and around those communities we have lots of African-American physicians participating.
We are doing fatherhood initiatives where we're working with Black fathers to make sure they get connected to their children.
We're doing mental health events.
We do a thing called Real Men, Real Talk.
We're doing mentoring programs.
And then we're doing opioid awareness. They discovered that the highest number of men overdosing on opiates are African-American men.
So those are the projects that we are doing as it relates to health. And then we've partnered with The Ohio State University for COVID mask campaigns, vaccine campaigns.
The reason Abbott and the American Diabetes Association are working with us is because what they found is that we can reach the communities who they cannot reach. And we can have the language and the conversations with the audience that they're trying to have and, therefore, the messaging becomes something that people can relate to.
We know there's a tremendous trust issue between African-Americans and the medical field. And so what we think we do is we bridge that because we become partners and can take the message, and there's some message of trust.
Joseph: So out of those walks, one of the things that they ask is, "Can we evaluate that data? Are Black men getting healthier?"
What we saw looking at data from 2015, '16, '17, '18 was that the men knew their numbers — so they knew their blood pressure, which is a huge win; they knew their cholesterol, huge win — but unfortunately those numbers weren't improving. Year after year with poor numbers.
So we put together a program called Black Impact, a 24-week program where we looked to recruit men who had poor cardiovascular health: blood pressure, cholesterol, glucose, body mass index, poor levels of physical activity, diet or smoking.
They were put on six teams and each team had a health coach as well as a personal trainer. They went through a curriculum where they came out two hours per week. One hour was on health education and one hour was physical activity.
And a lot of Black men were frankly lonely. They didn't have those social connections.
And so throughout the program, what we saw was that the men were fantastically engaged in the program, enjoying the program, and out of that really building trust with the medical community as well as building trust with each other, which was just great to see.
At the end of the 24 weeks, men had lost weight, their blood sugars had improved, their cholesterol had improved, they were doing more physical activity. And so what we call "Life Simple 7" improved through the course of the study.