By: Melinda Gillispie, RN, BSN, MSN
Too often we feel that the African American community and our state are lagging behind. News stories often remind us of our poor rankings when it comes to obesity and other chronic diseases. Then, people talk about what needs to be done.
Talk is important. As a community relations coordinator for Greenville Health System and a member of the Southeastern Health Equity Council (SHEC), I spend a good bit of time talking to raise awareness about health disparities.
But, there comes a time for action and personal responsibility.
GHS is hosting its 10th annual Minority Health Summit Saturday, April 9 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the TD Convention Center in Greenville. We’re focusing on diabetes and mental health. Two-time Grammy Award winner Patti LaBelle will share her story involving diabetes.
Our summit is a special event. We share powerful stories and information in a fun and dynamic atmosphere. I’m often stopped by past summit attendees who tell me how they took action and accepted personal responsibility for their health.
We’ve heard from neighbors who started a walking program after attending the Minority Health Summit. People have been screened and diagnosed with cancer after learning about the importance of early detection.
Our society is fortunate to have experienced many advances in healthcare that’s led to people living longer and having higher survival rates after a cancer diagnosis. But, it’s important that each of us take action and accept responsibility for our health.
Lifestyle changes are hard. Many of us have family, church and work commitments that make fast food seem like the only convenient option and it’s not always easy to find time for exercise.
However, we have a responsibility to ourselves and our families to do better. We can learn to substitute our favorite fried foods with baked and grilled dishes. Let’s consider meeting our friends for walks around the neighborhood or at an exercise class. If we are diagnosed with a chronic disease, like diabetes, hypertension or high cholesterol, keep appointments with your doctor and ask questions. Don’t hesitate to ask about resources that can help.
The next time we hear a news story focused on South Carolina being among the most obese states or positioned in the buckle of the stroke belt, let’s pause to reflect on our lives. What’s a typical meal like, how often do we exercise and how do we manage stress?
If you are not where you want to be health wise, it’s time to take action for you and your family.
Melinda Gillispie, RN, BSN, MSN, is a community relations coordinator with Greenville Health System. She represents South Carolina on the Southeastern Health Equity Council (SHEC) and is currently leading a research project focused on reducing health disparities in Greenville County.