Special to the Journal
More men in Georgia are living beyond age 60, but on average live five years less than women and have lower average life expectancy then men living in many other states in the U.S.
This is one of many statistics that have caught national and state attention and have resulted in the establishment of the Georgia Commission on Men’s Health and National Men’s Health Week, June 13-19, which coincides with Father’s Day.
These and other statistics have also captured the attention of Phoebe Putney Memorial Hospital.
“Statistically speaking, men have a shorter life span than women,” said Darrell Sabbs, Phoebe’s Community Benefits coordinator. “That’s unfair to families because it leaves families stricken with no husband or father. Women have to carry the burden.
“It’s important that we focus on the health of men and young boys,” Sabbs said.
For years, Phoebe has been organizing activities in churches and providing speakers at social and civic organizations to emphasize the importance of men. While this is a year-round focus, Phoebe plans special community-wide events during this particular week.
“We celebrate Men’s Health Week and focus on the value of men, and what they mean to their families, their community and to the labor force,” said Sabbs.
Through a series of events next week, Phoebe will be putting the spotlight on men and boys, as well as providing health opportunities that bring education, awareness, prevention, and early detection of diseases.
Kicking off the week, Phoebe Sumter Medical Center will host a “Ties That Bind” event on June 16 at the Reese Park Economic Development Center in Americus. This event, previously held in Albany, invites professional men and community leaders to mentor boys who come from fatherless homes.
“In other cultures, there is a rite of passage,” said Sabbs. Through this event, “boys are taught what it is to be a man. What they see is what they become.”
Fifty boys from the Boy’s Club of Sumter County and the Sumter County School System are invited, as are 50 professional men and community leaders, who are asked to bring a necktie for a boy.
Sabbs described the necktie as “a symbol of influence to man.” He said, “Many boys are without that in their wardrobe.”
During the event, each boy will learn how to tie a necktie, and possibly benefit from a mentoring relationship.
On June 17, Phoebe will partner with Tyson Foods, Lift Up America and Second Harvest Food Bank, and public and private schools in Albany for a hunger relief event. Tyson Foods will deliver 30,000 pounds of protein to Phoebe. This food will then be distributed by Second Harvest Food Bank to nearly 50 agencies in Southwest Georgia. The key speaker at this event will be Spencer Tillman, CBS Sports Team analyst and former NFL football player.
“It’s a day of sharing and giving back to the community,” said Sabbs. He said this event is particularly important now with high unemployment rates impacting men and their families. “It’s important that men know they are providers and not just consumers, especially during this time of joblessness. Oft times, these kinds of stressors can create many mental health issues.”
The week will culminate in Phoebe’s 11th Annual Men’s Health Conference on June 18. The event, from 8 a.m.-2 p.m. at Phoebe HealthWorks, will also feature guest speaker Spencer Tillman. The theme “Tune Up for Life” encourages men to participate in a day of awareness, prevention and early detection.
About 500 men are expected at this event, which reaches out to more than 10 counties in Phoebe’s service area.
Free prostate, cholesterol, diabetes, blood pressure and height and weight screenings, as well as physician-led workshops on diabetes management, heart health, prostate cancer, colorectal cancer, and erectile dysfunction will be featured.
“Health care and the economy is of vital importance to peoples’ everyday life,” said Sabbs.
Because many men are jobless, have no insurance or are underinsured, this conference affords men the opportunity to take a snapshot of their health status.
Through this event, Phoebe helps “men navigate through complications with healthcare costs and the barriers that create disparities in men’s health,” said Sabbs. “You know, your health is your wealth.”