Dayton Gets Real: Barbershop conversations spark new health initiative for customers

DAYTON — Lots of people head into barbershops to take a little off the side and top and look sharp, but the conversation is not usually about the customer’s health.

That’s all changing with the launch of a new barbershop health initiative.

News Center 7′s Mike Campbell spoke with a man that runs a barbershop who explained how a workplace tragedy is driving him to keep his customers happy and healthy.

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The new program is recruiting barber shop owners to help their customers also improve their health.

Jonathon Cain owns The City Stars Unlimited Barbershop with his father. They just lost a young man who worked for them as a barber for three years in a tragic way.

“He had a heart attack and passed away at the age of 26. That struck a chord with me emotionally,” Cain said.

Cain told his family that he wanted to do better for his employees and his customers. He thoughts if barbershops are places where people relax and talk openly, why couldn’t they talk openly about their health and improve their health.

He reached out and the barbershop Health Program was born, using Premier Health resources and mobile clinics.

Cain is one of five barbershop owners that are now trained in CPR, first aid and the use of AEDs, which are automatic external defibrillators.

The AEDs are devices that send an electrical pulse to the heart in an emergency to restore a normal heartbeat.

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Cain and the other owners have AEDs in their shops that might save someone like the friend he lost. They also learned to check in with their customers about their overall health.

“To say, tell me about the last time you had your blood pressure checked, have you seen your physician on a regular basis,” said Roopsi Narayan, Director, Premier Community Health.

Narayan said the program also included periodic visits by a mobile health clinic to the shops. Customers can walk out and see a nurse and lifestyle coach for a free health screening.

“Another thing that is critical is the relationship that are built in barbershops or beauty salons,” Cain said.

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Cain said the minority community is often underserved with health resources and is not always trusting of health care professionals.

Getting a recommendation from someone in a trusted situation can help them seek the help they might not even know they need.

“It really just takes away excuses in a sense and shows the person that you care,” Cain said.

Barbershop customers who want to take advantage can open the door of the mobile clinic when it visits and get blood pressure screening and other health services. Maybe even be hooked up with a primary care physician that they can begin seeing for regular health checkups.