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Health Outreach Founder Keynotes Black Caucus

LOS ANGELES -- Dr. Bill J. Releford, D.P.M., founder of the Black Barbershop Health Outreach Program, will be a featured speaker at the 2010 Fall Congressional Black Caucus Health where he will describe a pair of innovative health programs he developed.

His speech will take place Friday, Sept. 17 during a series of three special presentations, described as "programs and innovations to support and replicate in the post-health care reform era." Dr. Releford will speak at 11: 40 a.m. at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center in Washington D.C.

Throughout the day-long program, expert panelists will discuss health care reform, and how the new legislation will be expected to help underserved communities. The conference is sponsored by the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation Inc. and its Health Brain Trust.

Dr. Releford will discuss the project for which he is best known: the Black Barbershop Health Outreach Program. That program is dedicated to addressing health care disparities among African American men. While visiting an African American owned barbershop, men are screened for chronic health diseases, and learn about the importance of monitoring their health. Launched three years ago, the outreach program led to more than more than 15,000 black men being tested in 50 cities nationwide.

The barbershop outreach program is conducted through the Diabetic Amputation Prevention Foundation, which Dr. Releford also founded. This philanthropic effort was started in order to help decrease the diabetes-related amputation rate among high-risk populations around the world. Furthermore, the foundation aims to address the rising number of people with undetected cardiovascular disease, a disease that adversely affects African American males.

"I'm humbled and honored to be a part of this conference," said Dr. Releford, who also is an assistant professor at Charles R. Drew University of Medicine and Science in Los Angeles. "I'm thankful that these programs have touched so many lives. We're making every effort to reach even more."

Dr. Releford, who started The Releford Institute for Limb Salvage and Wound Care in Los Angeles, will speak primarily on conducting health care screenings through barbershops, especially for diagnosing diabetes, blood pressure and other high-risk diseases. He will describe why this strategy, of placing a health care professional in a barbershop for health screenings, has been effective in reaching thousands of African American men.

In fact, nearly 15,000 African American men have been tested through the outreach program in 23 cities, including New Orleans, Chicago, Atlanta, St. Louis, and New York City (Harlem) since 2007 when the program was launched. The ultimate goal by 2012 is to screen more than a half-million African American men.

The program has enjoyed support from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Charles R. Drew University of Medicine and Science, UCLA and the Prostate Cancer Foundation. His outreach program has been featured on the NBC Nightly News, The View as well as the Los Angeles Times, Washington Post, Black Enterprise, Newsweek, Ebony and others. 



Black Barbershop Outreach Program
African American men suffer disproportionately from preventable diseases and have the lowest life expectancy than any other ethnic group. The Crisis of the African American Male is further complicated by ongoing health care disparities. Early detection and intervention are necessary to address this growing trend. The Diabetic Amputation Prevention Foundation launched The Black Barbershop Outreach Program in December 2007 to address the at-risk African American male population throughout the country for cardiovascular disease.

Black owned barbershops represent a cultural institution that regularly attractslarge numbers of black men and provides an environment of trust and an avenue to disseminate health education information .During The Black Barbershop Program volunteers have measure blood pressures and screen for diabetes in over 23 cities across the country. Customers with abnormal findings are referred to participating physicians or health care facilities. In some instances, men have been sent directly to the emergency room because of abnormal findings. More commonly, participates are given information about health care resources in their immediate community. In Los Angeles, we have developed "THE REAL BLACK BOOK / Medical Resource Guide" which is a compilation of free or low cost health care resources. The Black Barbershop Health Outreach Program has developed key strategic partners around the country to address health care disparities in African American men. In order to reach our goal to screen over 500, 000 men by the year 2012 we are reaching out to every fraternity, sorority, medical school, nurse, corporate entity and philanthropists help us prevent premature death in African American men from cardiovascular disease and prostate cancer.



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