Gaston & Porter
Health Improvement Center
The Gaston & Porter Health Improvement Center, Inc.(GPHIC) is a nonprofit 501(c)(3) organization developed in 2002 by Marilyn Gaston a physician and former Assistant Surgeon General of the United States, DHHS, and Gayle Porter, Psy.D a clinical psychologist. Its purpose is to help women, especially African American women, improve their physical and emotional health outcomes. Drs. Gaston and Porter, co-founders and co-directors of GPHIC, have over 80 years of combined experience in:
providing services to and treating individuals and families from racially and economically diverse communities;
providing services to and treating poor and minority families and communities, especially African American women’s mental and physical health;
conducting research focused on emotional and physical health issues;
administering local, state, and national programs; and
developing and implementing community based health program
Drs. Gaston and Porter realized that many of the disease states and negative mental health conditions experienced by their patients were preventable or manageable if only the patients had more knowledge and felt empowered to make positive lifestyle changes. Drawing on their experiences, focus groups, surveys, and the latest available research, they wrote the seminal book - Prime Time: The African American Woman’s Complete Guide to Midlife Health & Wellness, published by Random House in 2001 and revised in 2003. In this book, that remains the only health book focused on African American women in this age group, they spelled out strategies for African American women to gain control over their physical and mental health.
Not even the authors expected the overwhelmingly positive reaction from the book or expected it to become an Essence Magazine best seller. Women besieged them for help to make the lifestyle changes the book was urging. In 2002, GPHIC was established to respond to this call. In November of the same year, with seed funding from The Ford Foundation, GPHIC started operations to pilot and determine the effectiveness of its core service, thePrime Time Sister Circles® (PTSC), an evidenced-based support group program designed for African American women between 40 and 75 years old. PTSC specifically targets three risk factors which are major contributors to morbidity and mortality from chronic diseases: unmanaged stress, physical inactivity, and poor nutrition. Within two years, PTSCs were operating in Washington, DC, and Orlando, FL. In 2004 PTSCs were established in urban and rural sections of Maryland through funding from the University of Maryland School Of Medicine.
Proof of concept was documented in 2007 with publication of the results in the Journal of the National Medical Association.
At this point, the PTSC has operated in four states (Maryland, Florida, Illinois, Pennsylvania )and the District of Columbia. Almost two thousand African American women have participated in the twelve week “life changing” program. Across the country, thousands of African American women have been reached by Drs. Gaston and Porter through keynote speeches, lectures, workshops and distribution of their book.