Hair today, health tomorrow

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Regular visits to the doctor’s office are an important part of staying healthy, yet many people do not have a primary care physician for routine checkups. To address this need, the Center for Minority Health at the University of Pittsburgh Graduate School of Public Health held the eighth annual “Take a  Health Professional to the People Day” from 10 a.m.-2 p.m., Sept. 17 at 10 barbershops and beauty salons throughout Pittsburgh.

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TESTING—In the photos above and below people at various barbershops and beauty salons throughout the city are tested by health professionals.

The event creates a unique opportunity for African-Americans who lack a medical home or may be hesitant to visit the doctor’s office, to talk about health in the comfort of their local barbershop or beauty salon.

“Historically, barbershops and beauty salons have been where African-Americans gather not only to get haircuts and styles, but to network, debate politics, socialize and exchange information through the ‘grapevine’,” said Angela Ford, Ph.D., executive director of the CMH. “It just makes sense that health promotion and disease prevention would work well in this trusted environment.”

This year, teams of volunteer physicians, nurses, public health educators, dentists and pharmacists from Pitt’s Schools of the Health Sciences, Duquesne University School of Nursing, Gateway Health Plan, Mayo Clinic, University of Colorado, University of Wisconsin and health advocates from across the city will join CMH’s innovative community outreach effort. Many of the participating barbers and salon operators have been trained by CMH as lay health advocates. By providing free blood pressure screening and education about diabetes, cancer, hypertension and HIV/AIDS, the event seeks to build trust and promote health and prevent disease in African-American communities.

Screenings took place at Bat’s Barber Shop, Big Tom’s Full Service Barber Shop, Center of Attraction, Crown of Glory Hair Salon, Hamm’s Barber Shop, Mark Anthony Beauty Salon, Ms. Ida’s Epiphany Barber Shop, The Natural Choice, Wade’s Barber Shop and Willie Tee’s Barber Shop.

(For more information, contact Mario Browne at 412-624-9472 or http://www.upmc.com/mediarelations.)

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