Clayton health board opens sports-themed male clinic

Photo by Curt Yeomans
Clayton County Board of Health Director  Alpha Fowler Bryan (second from right), explains “The Locker Room” male clinic concept to visitors during the clinic’s grand opening, on Thursday.

Photo by Curt Yeomans Clayton County Board of Health Director Alpha Fowler Bryan (second from right), explains “The Locker Room” male clinic concept to visitors during the clinic’s grand opening, on Thursday.

Men need to treat their bodies the same way they treat their cars, according to former State Rep. Mike Glanton.

Glanton explained that a man can tell you when it’s time to do routine maintenance on his road chariot, but he is not good at answering questions about when he needs to get a physical. The welfare of the roadster, it seems, comes before the welfare of its hot rod driver.

“Like clockwork, we’ll get the oil changed, but your body needs a check-up, too,” Glanton said.

Glanton’s remarks about a man’s priorities came Thursday, during the opening of the Clayton County Board of Health’s new, sports-themed men’s health clinic — “The Locker Room.” It is located at the Clayton County Board of Health offices, at 1117 Battle Creek Road, in Jonesboro.

Clayton County Health Director Alpha Fowler Bryan said the clinic is the result of years of work, which began in October 2007, with Glanton telling her the county needed something that promoted better health for men.

“The Locker Room” will be available to provide health consultations to Clayton County males between the ages of 11 and 45, according to county health officials.

Bryan said the county cannot reach its stated goal of creating a healthier Clayton County, within one generation, without including a program that focuses on men’s health.

“It [“The Locker Room”] is an entry point for embracing and enhancing, our male wellness here in Clayton,” Bryan said. “It is important that we begin to include males, and our whole concept is that this is an inclusive agency, here, at the Clayton County Board of Health.”

U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) data, provided by the Clayton’s health department, shows that heart disease is the leading cause of death among men. The data reveals that men die from heart disease at an annual rate of 248.5 men, per 100,000 males.

The next leading causes of death among men, in order, are: cancer, injuries, stroke, HIV/AIDS, and suicide, according to the data. The figures also show that men — on average — die nearly six years before women do.

An information sheet from the health department explains that the clinic’s services will include: Blood pressure, thyroid, heart and lung assessments; health education; height, weight and Body Mass Index checks; male breast exams; colorectal cancer screenings; HIV testing and counseling services; genital and rectal examinations; instructions on how to perform testicular cancer self-examinations, and abdomen and extremity assessments.

“The Locker Room” clinic was set up with a sports atmosphere — including lockers that have sporting equipment hanging in them, and professional sports jerseys hanging on the walls — to make men feel more comfortable, county health officials said. The health consultant, who men will meet upon their arrival in the room, is being called a “coach.”

But, despite the appearance of an actual sports locker room, there are reminders that this is a health clinic. A sign in the room emphatically reminds visitors that, “Your health is not a game,” and pamphlets that explain how men can handle various health issues are available.

“We want males to feel that this is a place that includes them, a place that makes them feel welcome,” said Jevon Gibson, the health department’s director of coordinated youth services. Gibson was responsible for developing “The Locker Room.”

Essentially, however, officials said they chose a sports theme, because it is something to which men can understand, and relate. “‘The Locker Room’ is a great name, because I think it appeals to the male ego,” Glanton said. “We don’t mind going to the locker room. If you call it a health clinic, or a hospital, you might bother some men, but since you call it a locker room, we might want to come on in here.”

Men who come to the clinic for help will ask to visit “The Locker Room” upon their arrival at the Clayton County Board of Health offices, according to Gibson. The “coach” will be called in to escort them to the room for their health consultation.

Gibson said the men will be taken to health department clinical staff for checkups. They will then return to “The Locker Room” for a wrap-up consultation. During the consultation, the patients will receive a health “score card.”

“We’ll give them a package when they leave that will include shaving cream, razors, deodorant, condoms, and those types of things, as an incentive [to maintain a healthy lifestyle],” Gibson added. He said the clinic currently is reaching out to men up to age 45 because of limited funding for the service, but he also said the department hopes to eventually be able to expand it to senior citizens, too.

“We’re hoping by doing this piece, we’ll be able to [eventually] get some additional funding,” Gibson said.

Call (678) 610-7199, for more information.