UAB's Minority Health & Health Disparities Research Center (MHRC) will soon offer free health screenings, health-education classes and programs and other primary prevention resources at its new wellness center in downtown Birmingham.

The UAB HealthSmart center, located in the Watts Tower Building at 20th Street and Third Avenue North, is scheduled to open in February and will serve as a health-information resource for employees, visitors and residents of the downtown area and surrounding neighborhoods, says MHRC Director Mona Fouad, M.D.

The center will offer its programs at targeted times, just before and after work and during  lunch time, for instance, to accommodate downtown business hours and work schedules, she says.

The HealthSmart center is an extension of MHRC's outreach programs, which have provided health screenings, health "talking circles," nutrition and physical activity programs and other disease-prevention services to 60,000 community members in eight Birmingham communities and 12 Alabama counties.  

"We've been interested in getting the Minority Health & Health Disparities Center, which seeks to eliminate minority health disparities throughout the Southeast, to operate outside the walls of UAB, in the heart of downtown, in an effort to serve the broader community," Fouad says. "Many people from surrounding counties come to Birmingham to work every day. This will be an opportunity for them to take some of what they learn back to their communities."

The HealthSmart center is funded by UAB, philanthropic fundraising and national grants. It is based in part on models in St. Louis and other cities but tailored to Birmingham's needs, Fouad says.