• Darrell Gray
    A doctor brings care to a community that needs it.
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Removing barriers to health care


Darrell Gray II, MD, MPH, a gastroenterologist at The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center, is passionate about removing barriers to health care. As deputy director of the Center for Cancer Health Equity at The Ohio State University Comprehensive Cancer Center – James Cancer Hospital and Solove Research Institute, he is part of a team that takes a mobile colorectal education unit to underserved areas of Columbus. For Dr. Gray and his colleagues, it’s all about frank talk — and some hard-to-avoid visuals.
 
Maybe it’s standing eye-to-eye with a colon polyp, or maybe it’s seeing how jarring a colorectal cancer tumor looks. But there’s no doubt that walking through a human colon, its walls smooth, pink and plump when healthy — and spotted, lumpy and bulbous when not — drives home the importance of preventive care.
 
The mobile unit and the work it supports is made possible for people in communities across Ohio because of donors, corporate partners and volunteers. The highlight of that mobile screening unit? An inflatable colon that blows up like a tunnel and is so large that adults can walk through it. The inflatable colon shows how a normal, healthy colon should look, what happens when benign and malignant polyps appear and how a colon looks when afflicted by inflammatory bowel disease and advanced colon cancer.
 
“Our doctors, nurses and staff provide guided, scripted tours through the colon, and it’s incredible to be a part of this novel and interactive learning experience,” Dr. Gray says. “We see that people’s knowledge about colon cancer increases. Their willingness to talk about it with their peers, family and doctor increases. But also, their intention to get screened increases, and that’s what matters.”
 

 



  • “Many of these people have not been previously engaged in the healthcare system, and they are now getting screenings. This can’t happen without donor support.”
    Darrell Gray, MD Deputy Director, OSU Center for Cancer Health Equity
  • “Our focus as a team has really been about reducing disparities in cancer -- and that’s along the whole cancer-care continuum, from prevention to diagnosis to treatment to survivorship.”
    Darrell Gray, MD Deputy Director, OSU Center for Cancer Health Equity


 

Preventing cancer and improving outcomes


Dr. Gray and his team have screened more than 130 uninsured and underinsured men and women for colorectal cancer since 2015 and have removed numerous precancerous polyps, each time preventing a cancer from happening. “Each person we see is one more cancer that can be prevented or caught earlier,” Dr. Gray says. A person’s chances at survival change depending on how easily a person can access the healthcare system, he adds. But accessing the healthcare system is not always simple.

The Ohio State Center for Cancer Health Equity works across the region to bring health care to people who might not otherwise receive it. “Many of the people we serve have not been previously engaged in the healthcare system, and they are now getting screenings that could be lifesaving,” Dr. Gray says. “This can’t happen without donor support.”

 

Colon Cancer Disparities in Ohio: How The James is taking action. Darrell Gray, MD explains what those disparities are, who they affect and what can be done to address them.

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