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VOL. 113 | NO. 247 | Thursday, December 30, 1999

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By SUZANNE THOMPSON Mens health care is core of Web site By SUZANNE THOMPSON The Daily News A group of Mid-South physicians are harnessing the power of the Internet to promote preventative health care for men. Doctors from two Memphis urology practices are spearheading a campaign aimed at raising awareness among men and their partners about the importance of health care for men. Drs. Rick Smith and Yair Walzer of Mid-South Urology are partnering with Drs. Michael Alabaster and Mark Saslawsky of the Southeast Urology Network to promote the cause. The physicians have launched the Web site www.malehealthcenter.com for the campaign. The local physicians took the lead for the campaign from Dr. Kenneth A. Goldberg of Dallas, author of two books on the subject, ``How Men Can Live as Long as Women and ``When the Man You Love Wont Take Care of His Health. Malehealthcenter.com is recording between 2,500 and 3,000 hits each week, Goldberg said. He founded the Male Health Center in 1988, after years of seeing patients who had diseases that could have been prevented or caught in earlier stages and treated. "I would like to see the concept spread and become a national concept with the hub being the Internet, which I think is an optimal site for men for them to remain anonymous and gain access to health care information," Goldberg said. Walzer and Alabaster flew to Dallas and met with Goldberg earlier this year to discuss the possibility of partnering with him to bring a Male Health Center to Memphis. Smith said his partners in the male preventative health care mission believe in the concept Goldberg started in the late 1980s and for Goldberg to transfer the concept to cyberspace made sense. "Men seem to like the anonymity of computers," Smith said. Citing information from the Centers for Disease Controls National Center for Health Statistics, Smith said men see their physicians about 150 million fewer times annually than women. "During the past 20 years, theres evolved a great awareness over female health issues. We need to spend the next 20 years focusing on male health issues," Smith said. Smith said in 1922, the lifespan of men and women were about the same, with those figure shifting toward the turn of the century. By 1948, women were outliving men by an average of about four years and by 1992, women were living seven years longer than men, he said. "Were choosing to call this a male health crisis. We plan to close the gap," Smith said. The plan for bridging the gap includes eventually placing a brick-and-mortar Male Health Center in U.S. cities with populations of more than 1 million people, he explained. Alabasters brother, Steven, a doctor in Seattle, is working to open a Male Health Center in that city. Although Goldberg pioneered the concept of education, awareness and prevention, the local physicians plan to build and expand on his theory. "E-healthcare will happen, but you cant do a prostate exam over the Web," Smith said. Which makes bridging the gap between clicking onto a site and leaving the office to visit a physician vitally important, he said. The Male Health Center will continue to be headquartered in Dallas, but the team of physicians promoting awareness will be located in Memphis, Smith said. Goldberg said transferring cyber patients into physical ones is very important. The goal is to make the center a way of not only getting men into the health care system but to health care providers who are male-health friendly, Goldberg said. It is not a quick or easy process, he said. "Its going to take a lot of ingenuous material and information in various forms from the Web to do that. Its going to mean educating the partner as well and also mean creating a system for following up with the men," Goldberg said. His goal in partnering with the local doctors is ultimately to help men take the same level of care with their bodies as they do machines. "Men need to take as good a care of their bodies as they do their cars, and they dont," Goldberg said.

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