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Wellness Watch - Minority Health Month

Health indicators such as life expectancy and infant mortality have generally improved over the years for most Americans. However, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, “some people from racial and ethnic minority groups experience a disproportionate burden of preventable disease, death and disability.”

This certainly isn’t a new problem. In 1915, renowned educator, author and civil rights leader Booker T. Washington established National Negro Health Week to bring awareness to health disparities affecting African Americans caused by poor living and working conditions. That effort laid the foundation for what is now National Minority Health Month, established by Congress and commemorated each April.

Phoebe is committed to improving health equity, providing culturally competent care for diverse populations and enhancing access to preventive, primary and specialty care to populations who have historically been underserved and had poorer health outcomes.  Everyone should have a primary care physician they visit regularly to provide routine checkups, manage chronic conditions and notice changes in health to catch potentially serious problems early. If you don’t have a primary care physician, go to to find one near you.

Watch this conversation with Dr. Derek Heard about why we need to focus on minority health.

The statistics can be alarming. Minority groups are often more likely to develop serious illnesses and have substantially worse health outcomes compared to White Americans.  Here are some examples from recent CDC data.


In 2021, Black American adults were 1.8 times more likely to be diagnosed with diabetes than White Americans. In 2019, they were twice as likely to die because of complications from diabetes.

What is Phoebe doing to address the problem?

Phoebe is piloting a program in partnership with Flint River Fresh to provide bi-weekly fresh produce, cooking demonstrations and health education to diabetic patients who are primarily African American. We will track their progress over six months to see if the program helps them manage their illness more effectively. The Phoebe Diabetes Resource Center also provides family-oriented patient care and education to help those with diabetes manager their disease. Call 229-312-1392 for more information.


In 2022, the infant mortality rate for Black Americans was 2.4 times higher than for White Americans. In 2020, Black mothers were twice as likely to receive late or no prenatal care.

What is Phoebe doing to address the problem?

Phoebe’s Nurse Family Partnership matches first-time mothers with specially trained nurses who ensure the moms get proper prenatal care and are prepared for delivery and life as a new mother. The nurses remain partnered with the families for two years after delivery. For more information on the program, call Phoebe Network of Trust at 229-312-4620.

Phoebe was just the second hospital in Georgia to earn state designation as a Level III Maternal Center. Phoebe also has the region’s only maternal/fetal medicine specialist and has invested in a obstetrics ER which is staffed 24/7 by obstetricians who provide emergency care for pregnant women, support high-risk pregnancies and delivery babies for patients who don’t have on obstetrician or when a doctor can’t make it to the hospital in time to deliver a baby.


Multiple forms of cancer are more common in Black Americans, including prostate cancer. In recent years, Black men have been 1.7 times more likely than white men to develop prostate cancer and 2.1 times more likely to die from it.

What is Phoebe doing to address the problem?

Phoebe has many outreach projects to help prevent various cancers in underserved populations or to catch cases early when they’re more treatable. One such effort, the Elevation Project, is a partnership between Phoebe, Morehouse School of Medicine and African American Churches in the area. Phoebe helped train volunteer champions at the churches who encouraged other men to get screened for prostate cancer. Phoebe then hosted health fairs at the churches where more than 1,000 men have received free prostate cancer screenings.

For more information about minority health, visit these websites.