On Thursday, during their weekly meeting the board officially proclaimed July 2, 2015 as “Bring Your Dad to the Doctor Day” in Multnomah County.
To show their support for the proclamation, Multnomah County Health Department’s Rachael Banks and Gerald Deloney, chairman of the Coalition of Communities of Color told the board too many men avoid the doctor until it’s too late.
“It reminds us of the important roles that fathers play in families and that families can play with fathers,” said Banks, who serves as the director of the county’s Healthy Birth Initiative, Healthy Families, and the REACH programs.
“It really highlights the role of prevention and how important it is. It really speaks to all of the different components that make communities healthy.”
Banks is no stranger to the impact that healthcare can have on a family unit. At Thursday’s meeting she shared a very personal experience with the board.
Last September, around 10:30 p.m. one evening, Banks received a call from her mother. Her stepfather had a stroke but he refused to go to the hospital. What immediately came to Banks’ mind was a billboard she had recently seen about strokes that read “Time lost is brain lost.”
Banks knew they had to gethim to the hospital and fast.
Upon their arrival, they were informed that her stepfather was a mere 10 minutes away from irreversible brain damage but with the right medication he would make a full recovery. That is when Banks’ stepfather turned to her and said, “A lot of black people have died in this hospital.”
She realized then how scared he was to be in that situation and, looking back, recognizes that it could have been avoided had he gone to the doctor prior.
Banks’ story is not uncommon for many people and their families.
The proclamation cited Dr. Harvey B. Simon Associate Professor of Medicine at Harvard Medical School, who said that “men die younger than women, more frequently than women, and have more chronic illnesses than women.”
The proclamation drew attention to the importance of prevention.
“Right now we’re talking about taking dad [to the doctor] like it’s the tail-end of something, ‘’ said Deloney, who is also the director of program advancement at Self Enhancement Inc. “When we need to look at it in its beginning - being healthy as a young person and then living a healthy lifestyle all of your life.”
With a unanimous vote, the proclamation was adopted.
“There’s an old saying that an ounce of prevention is worth more than a pound of cure,” Commissioner Loretta Smith says.