METRO DETROIT — If the COVID-19 crisis has taught us anything, it’s that our health is never something to take for granted.
The pandemic has also served to highlight the disparities in health care, especially among people of color, who’ve been shown to be more likely to delay the routine health care screenings and preventative care that could improve or even save lives.
For a decade now, West Bloomfield-based Dr. Michael Lutz, president and founder of the Rochester-based Michigan Institute of Urology Men’s Health Foundation, has tried to help as many of his neighbors as possible to avoid falling into that situation by hosting the annual Men’s Health Event each fall.
Metro Detroit fellas have come out for the past nine years for a day of free medical tests, like vital screenings, a blood work panel, flu vaccinations, HIV testing and more.
Tens of thousands of southeast Michigan men have come out to the MIU Health Event before and walked away with crucial test results that, anywhere else, would be comprehensively valued at hundreds of dollars.
In its 10th year, though, many wondered if Lutz would host the event this year in light of the COVID-19 pandemic.
If anything, Lutz said, the pandemic has made him even more motivated to host the free medical day.
“It’s been estimated that 80,000 cancer diagnoses will be missed this year because of the COVID-19 pandemic,” Lutz said in a prepared statement. “Early detection is the single most important aspect of treatment and recovery.”
But, of course, the massive event that draws close to 20,000 visitors annually will need to look a little different this year to keep guests and volunteers safe from the virus. The traditionally one-day festivities will be split into two, with a virtual town hall to be hosted on Friday, Sept. 25, and a drive-thru health screening on Saturday, Sept. 26.
From noon-1 p.m. Friday, Fox 2 Detroit anchor Huel Perkins will host an online video discussion with a panel of experts that includes Lutz, Detroit Health Department Chief Public Health Officer Denise Fair, certified physician assistant and men’s health disparity expert Ken Mitchel, and a number of legislators, like U.S. Sen. Gary Peters, D-Michigan; U.S. Rep. Haley Stevens, D-Rochester Hills; and Michigan Lt. Gov. Garlin Gilchrist II.
Why will lawmakers be on a health panel?
Lutz said the topic is as relevant to them as it is to the MDs.
“We have assembled an impressive group of experts to discuss these important issues facing men at this critical and historic time in both the health care industry and the world,” said Lutz, who was invited to speak at a White House summit in 2016 about the importance of men’s health and improving health care opportunities for underserved populations.
Members of the community can register for this live virtual event, hosted by Zoom, at miumenshealthfoundation.org. The event will also be recorded and available for viewing on the MIU Men’s Health Foundation website following its conclusion.
The next day, metro Detroit men 18 and older, with or without insurance, are invited to head over to the Michigan State Fairgrounds for the drive-thru health screening event.
It will be a little less face time, sure. But the results will be just as invaluable.
Guys can consider it a way to get into the driver’s seat and take control of their own health.
“This is an opportunity for those who are delaying their health care services to start them in a very safe environment,” Lutz said.
The event provides men with an assessment of their current health and screenings for some of the most treatable diseases, like diabetes, liver disease, kidney disease, metabolic illnesses, prostate cancer, heart disease and more.
Since many illnesses are preventable, the event also offers a better understanding of how to live a healthy lifestyle, information about men’s health topics and increased awareness about advances in health care. Job fair and vocational information will also be provided.
It’s not uncommon for guests of the event to receive test results that would prompt further treatment, and several have gone on to discover and successfully treat cancer because of the prostate-specific antigen levels they yielded.
“A lot of men tend not to go to the doctor and don’t get checked,” said Steven Lepsetz, 70, of West Bloomfield, who attends the men’s health event every year for the extra check of his PSA levels, along with the health information provided.
“This is one way of encouraging guys to go to a doctor,” he added.
Detailed descriptions of all blood tests and screenings are available at miumenshealthfoundation.org/screening-details.
Men who choose to participate in the blood screening tests will receive a copy and an explanation of their results by text, or by mail for those without a smartphone.
Advanced registration is available by texting MHE 2020 to 483-55 or visiting TheMensHealthEvent.com. Email questions to [email protected]
The MIU Men’s Health Event will take place 9 a.m.-4 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 26, at the Michigan State Fairgrounds, located at 770 W. State Fair in Highland Park.