Monday, June 13, 2011

Client News: WellSpan's “Barbers with a Heart” Targets High Blood Pressure Risks

Source: Around WellSpan Online

Ada Loughhead, M.D., Family Medicine resident, right, takes Kevin Winter’s blood pressure while explaining to Kevin and his father, Patrick, how the blood pressure machine works. The Winters, owners of World A Cuts Barber Shop and the Barber Institute, are one of seven York City barbershops participating in the “Barbers with a Heart” program.
 A man and his barber often know a lot about each other. They see each other regularly and talk for 20 to 30 minutes while the barber performs his task. During this time, they may discuss work, family, sports, vacations and even health issues
That’s one of the reasons, WellSpan partnered with the City of York to launch the “Barbers with a Heart” program, designed to educate African-American males about the risks of high blood pressure.
“We realize barbershops are cultural institutions,” said Bruce Bushwick, M.D., chairman of the Department of Family Medicine and program director of the Family Medicine Residency Program. “They provide men with a place and an opportunity to talk about a variety of topics, including their health.”
Bushwick, who helped organize the program, said four of 10 African-American men have high blood pressure. And, two out of three of these are either not diagnosed or are undertreated.
As a result, African-American men are more likely to die or become disabled from complications of high blood pressure, including stroke, heart attack, peripheral vascular disease and congestive heart failure.
As part of the “Barbers with a Heart” program, seven York City barbershops will screen men for high blood pressure, using blood pressure machines and cuffs supplied by the program.
Barbers receive training and education about how to take blood pressure and interpret the results. Men with high blood pressure who do not have a personal physician will be given a card to call JoAnn Henderson, a WellSpan community health worker, who will set up an appointment with a physician for them.
Blood pressure machines and cuffs, blood pressure pocket cards, referral coordinator cards, an initial research questionnaire and a survey collection box will be delivered to participating barbershops this month.
Isaac Mantilla of Beatty’s Barber Shop attended the “Barbers with a Heart” kick off last week. “I think it’s a great idea to reach out to our customers and help them stay healthy,” he said. “We get to know our customers fairly well. Some of them are like family.”
After receiving a demonstration on how to operate the blood pressure machine, he said, “It’s very easy to use and self-explanatory.”
Patrick and Kevin Winter of World A Cuts and the Barber Institute agreed that the program is a great idea. “We think it’ll be a nice way to help educate our customers about their health,” said Patrick. “The statistics about high blood pressure in African-American males are astounding.”
York City Mayor C. Kim Bracey added, “The program is a great way to address issues plaguing our community, particularly African-American males. “I believe it’ll be an effective way to reach folks who may not think it’s important to see a physician regularly.”
The blood pressure machines were purchased with a grant from the Emig Research Center. Customers will complete questionnaires to help determine whether the project is an effective way to achieve the education goals.
Barbershops will be able to keep the blood pressure machines even after the research period ends.

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