Dr. Michael A. Lenoir said he initially founded the African American Wellness Project out of rage.“That rage comes from minorities who have been, and are currently being treated unfairly in the healthcare system,” said Lenoir, a pediatric, allergy specialist and immunologist. “If you look at the statistics, African Americans don’t get the same treatment as Caucasians; they don’t get the respect due them, and they receive inferior service from their healthcare provider.”
In 2000, Lenoir brought together a group of people who had extensive experience in the healthcare field. “I asked this group about how they were marginalized in the health care system and we discovered that there was a disparity of the provision of health care for people of color.”
Lenoir asserted, “Each one had a story where they were treated poorly or with no respect. One member even noted that when she reported to her doctor for a visit, she felt invisible.”
“So my concern was that if this was happening with people of prominent stature and prestige reputations, what was going on with people who didn’t have contacts or influence,” Lenoir said.
“Because of this, we developed the AAWP as a health and communications company, targeting our resources for people of color and the underserved.”
“Our intent is to focus on the African American consumer,” noted Lenoir. “The emphasis will include the importance of lifestyle and health, prevention, screening and early detection. We want African Americans to become more proactive as they navigate the health care system.”
“We also want African Americans and other consumers to be alert and vigilant when they do not receive quality care. We have a network of experts to support you as we work together to make the health care system more sensitive to the needs of our community.”
There are three primary health issues that people of color suffer from; obesity, heart disease and diabetes. High cholesterol is also becoming a major health issue even though it is a nutritional disease. Dr. Lenoir points out that these diseases are the numerator, while the dominator is how you’re treated in the system.
“The foods we eat, the exercises we perform and the medication we take, all determine our health status,” said Lenoir. “You have to first understand what your potential risk factors are, what things you do that affect your lifestyle, the environment, and your genetics…that’s how it all gets started.”
“Secondly, one must recognize the early warning signs of any problems regarding specific diseases, which uniquely affect people of color. Underneath all that is when they have these diseases such as diabetes, cancer and respiratory illnesses, people of people of color are sometimes at a loss as to how these important issues are treated.”
As an example, Lenoir said, Black men rarely go to the doctor out of fear. “The fear of not knowing or wanting to hear what the physician will tell you about your health.”
Lenoir describes the fear and the reaction to it. “You wake up feeling like something is wrong; you have a pain or ache that you’ve never experienced before and there were no warning signs that indicated your body was having a problem,” Lenori said. “That’s when you need to go see a physician before the mystery of your pending illness gets out of hand. The anxiety of getting a dire diagnosis can be avoided by having routine health screenings.”
The AAWP provides information on how African Americans can improve their quality of their life. “It’s important to do as much exercising as possible to keep your body moving,” said Lenoir. “Additionally, maintaining a proper, healthy diet; stress-reduction and keeping close watch on the foods you eat are very important,” he added.
“We provide guidelines, statistical data and ground-prevention information to everyone who visits our website, “said Lenoir. “Although we do not provide those services directly, we help to answer the questions as to where maintaining a healthy lifestyle can be obtained.
With a grant provided by the California Endowment, as well as resources from other health agencies, Dr. Lenoir and his colleagues have set out a mission to reach as many individuals as possible to spread their message. Dr. Lenoir can be heard on KBLX 102.9 each weekday beginning at the 5:30 p.m. drive-time sharing his information on maintaining a healthy lifestyle.
Lenoir is affiliated with multiple hospitals in the area including, Alta Bates Summit Medical Center in Berkeley and UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospital in Oakland. He is board certified to practice allergy, immunology and pediatrics services. He received his medical degree from the University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston, and has been in practice for more than 20 years. Lenoir accepts several types of health insurance for his services. He also speaks fluent Spanish, as well as other languages.
Lenoir’s office is located at 2940 Summit St., 1st Floor, Oakland, CA, 94609. Call 510-834-4897 for an appointment to find out more about his medical services.