The Gateway Medical Society is an association of doctors, nurses and non-medical professionals committed to eliminating health disparities among people of color. At an event later this week, the organization will offer free health screenings and counseling.
The Gateway to Wellness symposium will be held Saturday, May 11 from 7:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the UPMC Shadyside Hospital Campus on Center Avenue.
90.5 WESA's Elaine Effort spoke with GMS Vice President Steven Evans, a surgical oncologist, about the need for this type of community outreach as part of our series 90.5 WESA Celebrates: 90 Neighborhoods, 90 Good Stories.
Their conversation has been edited for length and clarity.
Evans on what attendees can expect at the symposium:
We will really be focusing on how to acquire, not only a healthy mind, but how to eat and make healthy choices with our meals; how to just keep it moving with simple physical activities, so that we can be in a position to eliminate these health disparities that arise and effect our communities of color.
Chronic illnesses, stress, suicidal ideations, being overweight—they may appear as mountains at first, but, at this symposium, both young and old will learn to have tools to go on the journey.
It is for our mothers, it is for our fathers, it is for our community, it is for our youth, it is for anyone who wants to have that 'gateway to wellness' become real to them.
Why educating members of communities of color about these health disparities is important to him personally:
It’s important to me because I have been so impacted seeing these chronic illnesses affect my immediate family. Thankfully, my parents lived to be of long age—94 and 98—but, unfortunately, my wife did not have that privilege. She succumbed to colon cancer, which is our second most common cause of morbidity and mortality in our community—breast cancer being number one.
So, it's very personal. For me personally, I've said, 'How can I make a difference?'
Evans on events during the Gateway to Wellness Symposium specifically aimed at reaching young people:
With our youth symposium, they also, in being so inundated with technology and all these challenges, want to really see how they can overcome the stresses that are so pervasive in their young age. Anxiety, depression and suicide—believe it or not—remain very high within our African American youth. So, we will have our former president of the National Association of Medical Illness give a talk to us on that day.
[We will] have other professionals talk to our young male youth about suicide and how to deal with suicidal thoughts because we want to empower them to be able to control their mind and control stress, also through physical activity. So, we're going to have dancing, of course, because that's a great release and an exercise activity.