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Dr. Releford is committed to saving the health and limbs of the community.
Dr. Bill Releford
Releford speaks on the significance of health transformation in the black community.
Included within the foreword of Dr. Bill Releford’s “5 Colors A Day To Better Health” is the wisdom of comedian and social activist Dick Gregory. “If they took all the drugs, nicotine, alcohol, and caffeine off the market for six days, they’d have to bring out the tanks and control you.” Throughout history the health of African-Americans has been negatively affected by the vices listed above. While for some they seem like essential components of everyday life, in reality, they are diminishing our health tremendously.
For close to 25 years, Releford has served as Medical Director of The Releford Institute providing amputation prevention, ankle and diabetic foot care. Discovered in his work are the effects of these vices as well as bad eating habits. By way of consultation, ‘The Black Barbershop Health Outreach Program’ as well as the ‘5 Colors A Day…’ book, Releford continues to shed light on the dangers of bad eating habits and how it provokes diabetes, issues which hit close to home.
Losing his mother to similar health complications, Releford feels more inspired than ever to attack the lack of knowledge surrounding such an impactful disease. Although taking this epidemic head on seems to warrant intense intimidation, fixing problems of this fashion aren’t new to him. Fulfilling the position of dietician in a convalescent center, Releford’s mother was very influential in his passion for medicine and involvement in the medical field. “I used to go pick her up, so I would see the doctors…also, we used to watch this medical show and it inspired me because I thought to myself that one day I could be a doctor like that.” Right outside of Tulsa, in Wagner, Oklahoma, is where the doctor was first introduced to the labors of hard work. Earning his first quarter by way of picking cotton, Releford gained a sense of independence, strength and appreciation for his roots.
With his father and family in construction also, as the oldest of six, Releford shaped and perfected his work ethics. Amidst developing a sense of pride and purpose, Releford discovered his true calling and passion. At the age of six, Releford began rubbing the feet of the older women in the community. “At 12, we moved to Los Angeles and a little old lady across the street had a foot problem…Her daughter would come to town to take her to the doctor but the lady told her, ‘my doctor lives across the street.’”
Attending Los Angeles High School, Releford shares that the majority of his instructors weren’t extremely convinced by or supportive of his dreams to become a doctor. “They were telling me to go to the army. Utilizing their disbelief to fuel the fire, Releford continued on, achieving attendance to and culmination from California State University of Pomona. Even among culture shock, prejudice and discrimination, he was encouraged, particularly by an individual by the name of Moses Williams. Now deceased, the uplifting soul declared, “You’re gonna make a fine doctor.” Following this moment of inspiration, Releford began to believe a little more, now walking and talking like a doctor.
Initially desiring a career in the field of sports medicine, as a result of the booming local, basketball enterprise(s), Releford surpassed this opportunity for the bigger and better plan God had in the works. “I think in life destiny takes precedence over your personal plans. So who knows our path and destiny because it’s already a part of a master plan.” It was subsequent to this realization that Releford started saving limbs for people that were at risk. “And that became my passion, to help decrease the amputation rate both domestically and internationally…helping people avoid the tragedy of lower extremity amputation particularly related to diabetes.” In regards to the purpose behind his drive, Releford stated that he wanted to do something that would spread health advocacy. “I started the Diabetic Amputation Prevention Foundation, a non-profit organization dedicated to educating people about the standard of care they deserve when they go to the doctor…encouraging them to ask the right questions.”
On the same page, Releford initiated ‘The Black Barbershop Health Outreach Program’. “We go around and screen men for diabetes and high blood pressure…we’ve screened men in over 600 barbershops throughout 42 cities. In relation to these efforts, he stated, “we have more in our community than we give ourselves credit for.” He also shares that our health starts in our house and how our emphasis should be less on material things/ appearance. “That’s true beauty.” In Releford’s “5 Colors A Day…”, he lists different methods that people can implement into their lifestyles that will lead to better health. “All of my patients, from 80 to 100, were all doing the same thing and they didn’t even know each other, but had all the same outcomes.” Including a variety of fruits and vegetables, the doctor confirms that our plates should look like the rainbow, not the same range of brown or neutrals. “There’s no life there.”
In this way, Releford stands confidently behind the idea that there is power in colors. “Beauty is not something you paint on top…the beauty radiates and emanates from the inside out. Using these steps towards a health transformation, Releford restores and enhances patient’s quality of life. Congruently, the doctor describes, and with excitement, one of the newer projects proven beneficial to our health. Platelet Rich Plasma, best known as PRP, involves the use of the healing components within (platelets) and our own bodies to heal a wound, joint, and soft tissue. “We’ve seen enormous results with health ulcerations; recommended amputations…people who couldn’t walk now can after courses of PRP.” Serving as the only office in Inglewood offering this specialty, this confirms that procedures utilized by celebrities such as Kobe Bryant and Tiger Woods are available to those within our own community. “Being able to help restore or enhance someone’s quality of life is hard to describe and difficult to measure. Of course we all are inspired by money, but when you run into someone and they say that’s the doctor that saved my momma’s leg, that minimizes all the trials and tribulations in life.”
In addition to several accolades, Releford also takes pride in his family life. Dedicating his “5 Colors A Day”, to his loving wife, Debra and two daughters Akilah and Ayanna, he smiled with joy and appreciation for the support of his family as well as the accomplishments of his daughters. Dedicated to providing his daughters with all the tools necessary to succeed, this same passion and care is evident in his practice. Hoping that more emphasis will be placed on the resources within our community, Releford continues to work towards informing people of what is available. Offering free consultations, Releford is affording outstanding health services to our community. Let’s thankfully take advantage! For more information on his services, etc., please be sure to visit relefordinstitute.com.
Photo by Ashley Nash