Ten years ago the St. Joseph’s/Candler African- American Health Information & Resource stepped into the health vacuum that African Americans faced.
There was a disparity in access to health care and a lack of cultural health information. That’s why St. Joseph’s/Candler opened the AAHIRC in 1999, the first such center run by a private institution.
“This center was an innovation,” said Paul P. Hinchey, President & CEO of St. Joseph’s/Candler.
He and other dignitaries like Mayor Otis Johnson celebrated the 10th anniversary Friday, Nov. 20 during a ceremony at the AAHIRC.
“It had not been done before. There was no credible health repository in Savannah for African Americans.”
At the time U.S. Surgeon General David Satcher noted the AAHIRC and said such facilities would change the way healthcare is delivered in the future.
Since then the AAHIRC has provided free health screenings and seminars to ensure that people are aware of how healthy they are and ways to improve their health and better manager diseases. Strategically located in an area of Savannah with more than 50 percent of the households below the poverty line, almost 90,000 people have used the AAHIRC in the last 10 years.
Over time, this strategy has and will positively impact the overall community wellness by improving the health profiles of Savannah’s minorities and poor, and thus reducing the gaps in health status and health outcomes between affected residents.
African Americans face much higher risk factors when it comes to serious health disease. Research indicates that African Americans have shorter life spans, more chronic health conditions and higher disease and illness rates than other cultural groups.
The AAHIRC examines the total person, a holistic view, to try to remove those external factors. “Our next challenge is to deal with health outcomes,” Hinchey said.
The African-American Health Information & Resource Center provides free health screenings such as blood pressure and blood sugar, referrals to physicians, free health seminars that cover heart disease risks, stroke risks, nutrition, healthy eating, combating diabetes, obesity and dealing with stress, free computer access and classes, access to expert help on employment searches and business development, ladies Living Smart Fitness Program that includes a comprehensive health screening and reading and math tutorials Health literacy classes.
The AAHIRC is located at 1910 Abercorn St. Call 912-447-6605 for more information.