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Jonathan Olmo, a medical assistant, gave a patient an EKG at the Preston Robert Tisch Center for Men’s Health at NYU’s Langone Medical Center in New York. The center offers a services ranging from heart monitoring to Botox for overactive bladders. “Welcome to the Casbah,” its director said.

James Estrin • New York Times,

“Are you creating a need or are you meeting a need? I think meeting a need – based on the longevity gap and men not taking care of themselves.” Dr. Steven Lamm, medical director of the NYU Langone Medical Center

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More clinics tailor care to needs of men

  • Article by: ANEMONA HARTOCOLLIS
  • New York Times
  • June 7, 2014 - 5:21 PM

From the gleaming limestone lobby to the chocolate and oxblood exam room walls to the percussive address, 555 Madison Avenue, a new clinic in New York City exudes masculinity.

It is NYU Langone Medical Center’s health center devoted to men, one of two such centers opened in the past two years by major New York hospitals, and using marketing techniques common to luxury spas. Says one ad slogan: “It’s the gentlemen’s club your wife would approve of.”

One-stop shopping

NYU Langone and other medical institutions have long had services devoted to women.

Now, hospitals are trying to take advantage of an enormous untapped market: men who, studies show, avoid doctors for virtually anything short of a bullet wound. The new clinics offer one-stop shopping for services ranging from heart monitoring to hair removal to hormone therapy, from the life-prolonging to the life-enhancing, if medically debatable.

The Men’s Health Center at the Miriam Hospital in Providence, Rhode Island, affiliated with Brown University, opened in 2008 and was one of the first in the nation. The Curtis D. Robinson Men’s Health Institute was founded in 2010 at St. Francis Care in Hartford, Connecticut. The Iris Cantor Men’s Health Center at NewYork-Presbyterian/Weill Cornell opened in 2012, and NYU Langone’s center opened six months ago.

Predictably, virility treatments, including for erectile dysfunction, are also a major draw. New York-Presbyterian’s center, for example, offers Botox treatments for overactive bladders and a physical therapist who works exclusively on the pelvic area to reduce stress-related pain.

“Welcome to the Casbah,” said Dr. Steven A. Kaplan, the center’s director, conveying a mind-set somewhere between clubby exclusivity and a pull-up-the-drawbridges fortress mentality.

But a hazard of gender-oriented health care may be that it will lead to overtesting and overtreatment, including the highly debated low-testosterone therapy or prostate specific antigen screening, or PSA, for prostate cancer, said Dr. Steven Woloshin, a professor at the Dartmouth Institute for Health Policy and Clinical Practice.

Dr. Steven Lamm, medical director of the NYU Langone center, acknowledged the risk, but said: “Are you creating a need or are you meeting a need?”

‘Men have needs too’

The ads for the health center revel in the retrogradeness of it all: “It’s not often you get to hang with the guys, and feel better the next morning,” and “Men have needs too.”

Creating a safe place is one way of combating a documented male avoidance of doctors. A 1999 paper in the Journal of Family Practice attributed this behavior to a need to project being in control, a sense of invulnerability and a reluctance to ask for help. And a 2012 study at Boston Medical Center found that men were more likely than women to go to the emergency room within a month of being discharged from the hospital, and even more so if they were unmarried or retired, which was attributed to social isolation.

Said Mike Kitson, 39, a project manager for a branding company, said of the NYU Langone clinic: “Everything’s kind of taken care of, so for a lazy guy like me it’s very, very helpful.”

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