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Dr. Janice Harbin will be Keynote at Alzheimer’s African American Symposium

By Tracie Isaac
TracieIsaac@minorityreporter.net

Dr. Janice Harbin DDS, President and CEO of Jordan Health, (keynote speaker at Alzheimer’s Symposium). PHOTO provided.

The Alzheimer’s Association’s Dr. Lemuel and Gloria Rogers African American Health Symposium is right around the corner.

This year’s event will be held on April 27th at Aenon Baptist Church 175 Genesee Street, and will feature a keynote address from Dr. Janice Harbin, DDS, President and CEO of Anthony L. Jordan Health Corp.

This is their 11th Annual event.

The symposium is named after Dr. Lemuel Rogers and his wife Gloria. Rogers, an obstetrician-gynecologist, was one of the first black doctors to build and own a medical building in Rochester. He is said to have delivered more than 5,000 babies in three decades at Rochester’s Highland and Saint Mary’s hospitals.

Rogers’ wife, Gloria, worked as a teacher and counselor for the Rochester City School District for 30 years. Mrs. Rogers was a member of the Delta Nu Omega Chapter of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority.

During the Symposium, health care providers and partnering organizations will present information and resources on the event theme of “Caring for our Community:  Dementia’s Impact and Hope for the Future.”

Dr. Janice Harbin has been a clinical dentist for more than 35 years and has worked in both public health dentistry and private practice associations. She will speak on the event theme, highlighting issues specific to the local African American and Latino communities.

From 2003 until 2009 she served as Dental Director for the Detroit Health Care for the Homeless.

Harbin has personal experience due to having her mother live with her until she passed away from Dementia. 

“Family members help and try to do the best they can to provide care for their loved one.  A lot of the time we don’t know what resources are available,” she said. “I will focus on education and the impact of Alzheimer’s and Dementia on our community.”

Additionally, Dr. Harbin feels that the faith-based ministries are doing a wonderful job of assisting in the education of their congregation and providing information on physical and mental health, geriatric health, dental health, and the resources.

“You should be able to talk to your doctor. If your doctor does not listen or seem to provide the attention to your concerns, you have a problem,” said Harbin.  “You need to demand the attention.  You have the right to ask questions.  Your provider needs to take the time to answer your questions or take the time to provide a ‘warm and hand-off’ not just ‘here call this number’ – you should be provided with resources to contact to get you the information to address your concerns.”

“In the community of color, we have a tendency to say we are not claiming an illness, but we have to recognize that different things claim us,” she continued. “The more proactive we are the better our outcomes become.”

Harbin says when it comes to Dementia, I think a lot of our communities of color do not know what resources are available to them.

“The effects of aging appear differently from person to person.  Different signs appear in different people.  However, we should not take for granted signs that might be an indicator, such as ‘am I forgetting things more’ or ‘forgetting from walking from the bedroom to the living room where we are going or what we were intending to do’ – that should not be a routine oversight or considered regular.  I think we take for granted that these instances are simply aging. By the time we recognize what those signs are, if the case is Alzheimer’s or Dementia, it is probably a more advanced stage.

A key focus of the conference will showcase The Effective Communication Strategies program of the Alzheimer’s Association. A program designed to provide practical information and resources to help dementia caregivers learn to decode verbal and behavioral messages from people with dementia.

Conference attendees will explore how communication takes place when someone has Alzheimer’s, learn to decode the verbal and behavioral messages delivered by someone with dementia, and identify strategies to help you connect and communicate at each stage of the disease.

“Communication is more than just talking and listening – it’s also about sending and receiving messages through attitude, tone of voice, facial expressions, and body language. As people with Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias progress in their journey and the ability to use words is lost, families need new ways to connect,” states their website.

Harbin says Community healthcare is important at the Anthony L. Jordan Health Center. 

“For over 100 years Jordan Health has been a central community health provider throughout the city.  With 54 years as a Federally Qualified Community Health Center the staff of Jordan Health is highly familiar with the impact of the leading health issues of communities of color,” she said.

“At Jordan Health there are departments of Care Coordinators, Social Workers and RN Care Managers and Community Health Workers, we try to connect people to care and information.  We also make printed information available throughout our centers and broadcast information and resources on the television screens while you are waiting for your provider and can use your time obtaining information.”

“We try to do a gentle hand-off or warm hand-off to ensure you get information in your hands so that you can follow up with the many important resources that are available to you. Where there is life there is hope,” she said.

This year’s conference will be held from 8:30AM to 3:00PM and will be in-person but everyone attending will be required to wear a mask. To register call 1-800-272-3900 or visit https://www.alz.org/rochesterny.