GHS’ Minority Health Summit celebrates special milestone with a legend

GREENVILLE—Ten years ago, more than 600 people gathered at Bethlehem Baptist Church in Simpsonville for the first Greenville Health System (GHS) Minority Health Summit. The event exceeded expectations as a larger crowd than expected came together to learn about the state of minority health and health disparities.

GHS will host its 10th Annual Minority Health Summit Saturday, April 9 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the TD Convention Center with the legendary Patti LaBelle. The summit’s theme is “Taking charge of diabetes and mental health.”Patti LaBelle

“It’s exciting to celebrate 10 years of the Minority Health Summit,” said Melinda Hudson-Gillispie, a GHS community relations coordinator, who organizes the event. “Throughout the year, we hear testimonials and stories about how the summit has changed lives, opened the doors for access to care and impacted the health of our community. People have left the summit motivated to get screened for various diseases and have changed their lifestyles.”

LaBelle, a two-time Grammy winner, was diagnosed with type 2 diabetes after passing out on stage during a performance. She’s outspoken about the importance of managing diabetes and she has authored cookbooks with healthier recipes for dishes like pork chops and chocolate pecan pie.

“It is troubling to review the numbers of people diagnosed with diabetes in our communities, but it’s even more alarming to learn about those who are not managing the disease and making the necessary lifestyle changes,” said Dr. Leon Buffaloe, an internist with GHS Family & Internal Medicine-Simpsonville.

According to the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control, the state had the seventh highest prevalence of diabetes in the nation in 2014. One in six African Americans has diabetes compared to one in nine white adults. The disease is the seventh leading cause of death in South Carolina and African Americans had more than two times a higher death rate compared to whites in 2014.

Diabetes risks and complications:

  • Four out of five people with diabetes in South Carolina are overweight or obese
  • Seven out of 10 people with diabetes have hypertension
  • Two out of three people with diabetes have high cholesterol
  • Cases of end-stage renal disease attributable to diabetes have increased by 50 percent in the last 10 years
  • Two out of five people with diabetes have not taken a diabetes self-management class

The summit will also include a presentation about mental health and there will be a panel discussion with GHS physicians, including a podiatrist, internists, psychiatrist and nephrologist, as well as a dietitian. The panel will address common questions that people have regarding diabetes and mental health.

Another staple of the summit is its ability to share important health information in an entertaining atmosphere. This year, the Crunk Cardio Team, a hip hop dance ministry, will energize the crowd.

The GHS Minority Health Summit, which averages more than 2,000 attendees, is a free event, but registration is required. People can register by calling 1-877-GHS-INFO (447-4636) or visiting

Past speakers at the summit have included the late Maya Angelou, Laila Ali, Sugar Ray Leonard, Dr. Ian Smith, Olympic gold medalist Cullen Jones and former U.S. Surgeon General Dr. David Satcher.

About Greenville Health System
Greenville Health System (GHS) — an academic health system that is the largest not-for-profit healthcare delivery system in South Carolina — is committed to medical excellence through research, patient care and education. GHS offers patients an innovative network of clinical integration, expertise and technologies through its eight medical campuses, tertiary medical center, research and education facilities, community hospitals, physician practices and numerous specialty services throughout the Upstate. The 1,358-bed system is home to 15 medical residency and fellowship programs. GHS is also home to the University of South Carolina School of Medicine Greenville, a joint effort of USC and GHS. Visit for more information.

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