12th Street Center’s March Man-ness Event Scores Victory for Health

By Ben Boulden

Seated near the free throw of a basketball court in the Saint Mark Baptist Church gymnasium, Smith was relaxing and watching an NCAA Basketball Tournament game on a giant projection screen March 23 during the sixth annual March Man-ness Health Event organized by the UAMS 12th Street Center for Health & Wellness.

Smith’s peace of mind came from having gone through all the health screening stations at the event.

Before sitting down to watch, Smith was one of more than 31 men and women who circulated through rooms on each side of the gym at Saint Mark. The UAMS students along with volunteers from other health organizations provided participants with free health care services, including checking blood pressure and glucose, HIV testing and physical examinations.

Men also had blood drawn to check testosterone levels, cholesterol levels and prostate sensitive antigen (PSA) for prostate cancer screenings and other blood components necessary for optimal health. A panel of health care professionals, pharmacists and physicians along with UAMS students supervised by them were on hand to answer personal health questions.

Student volunteers at the event draw blood from one of the attendees for a health screening.

Student volunteers at the event draw blood from one of the attendees for a health screening.

“I just wanted to make sure my health was good,” Smith said. “I went through all the stations. I especially wanted to make sure I went through the prostate screening because of a family history of prostate cancer.”

The crowd also seemed especially eager to get nutritional guidance, visiting with volunteers like Brianna Rhodes, Pharm.D., On Saturday, she was drawing small amounts of blood from participants to check their cholesterol levels.

“After they get their levels and are being counseled, they seem excited and eager to make changes in diet. It’s made a positive impact on those patients’ lives,” Rhodes said. “Many of them don’t have health care and a primary care provider so this is our way to give them an idea of where their health stands. We also refer them to the 12th Street Center for further follow ups if they don’t have primary care.”

Rhodes is finishing a residency at UAMS in preparation for becoming a chronic disease state management clinical pharmacist, working with physicians to help their patients get better control of conditions like diabetes and high-blood pressure. Rhodes also works as a preceptor, instructing and supervising pharmacy students as they perform health screenings and patient counseling.

“It is great practice for the students,” she said. “I make sure they demonstrate the proper technique to run all of the labs and their education is correct in the information they are giving patients.”

Melissa Clark, Pharm.D., M.P.H., director of the 12th Street Center, said that from the very start, Saint Mark also has been a key partner in the success of March Man-ness, providing the venue as well as helping with outreach.

“March Man-ness is about educating people about their own health along with an emphasis on men’s health, but we want it to be fun, too,” Clark said. “We want it to be inviting, not intimidating to participate in these screenings. Patients enjoyed being there. They received information and screenings, some of which are expensive. I think they also enjoyed having the March Madness basketball games playing on the giant screen, a giveaway every hour, and a free lunch.”

Free food, T-shirts, educational materials, child care and activities were provided at March Man-ness.

Saint Mark is the main sponsor and has been since this UAMS event began in 2014. Additional sponsors are the Arkansas Minority Health Commission and JM Bozeman Enterprises. ARCare, Arkansas Prostate Cancer Foundation and the Arkansas Cancer Coalition are providing supplies and services for March Man-ness.