The 2016-2017 flu season is in full bloom and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is encouraging people to get vaccinated. Many people living in rural areas do not have access to a flu shot clinic, so they just battle out the flu season without any type of protection.
The New Beginnings Unisex Barbershop is changing things up a bit, by offering customers hair cutting and minor medical services. Patrons can get their weight and blood pressure level checked, while waiting on a haircut. Flu shots are also available, since the barbershop doubles as a health clinic.
A program recently initiated by Kaiser Permanente was designed to address health disparities that cause racial minorities to be more prone to certain illnesses. Barbershops are one of the most frequented and trusted institutions in African-American communities, so health companies are hoping that residents will be more adamant about getting preventive care to fend off chronic illnesses.
“We were trying to figure out how we could get into the African-American community and reach people directly,” said Dr. Bernadette Loftus, associate executive director of The Permanente Medical Group. “Barbershops are often the heart of the community.”
While some African American men will potentially avoid medical clinics, they will frequent the local barbershop at least once or twice a month. The barber is one of the most trusted service providers in the community and many residents will trust them like an immediate family member.
Health programs have been started in barbershops in Chicago, Pennsylvania, Washington, D.C. and Colorado. The program was launched last year in West Baltimore, offering blood glucose and HIV tests, and blood pressure monitoring and other services. Nurses, medical technicians and physicians perform screenings on the busiest days of the weeks at barbershops, Friday and Saturday.
The Cigna Foundation has funded a health program at barbershops in Washington and Prince George’s County since 2014. The program is aimed at combating colorectal cancer in African-Americans, which is 52 percent higher in black males than whites. According to medical research, more the death rate is higher in African-American women and men. The disease is also 41 percent higher in black women than white women.
Today, 40 barbers have been trained to be colon cancer ambassadors and 10 barbershops are participating in the program.