HARLEM, Manhattan (PIX11) — Providing more healthcare to a community is a vital way to help it be more healthy.
That’s what a new report in a prestigious medical publication said, and it cites an unorthodox location here to show what having more community healthcare options means, in an unorthodox way.
Customers can get a cut, shave, styling, and high blood pressure screening at Denny Moe’s Superstar Barbershop on Frederick Douglass Boulevard.
“It’s all about the community,” said Dennis “Denny Moe” Mitchell, the barbershop owner that bears his name. “You’ve got to take care of those who take care of you.”
That principle, he said, motivated him to get trained to give blood pressure screenings in a community with generally higher rates of hypertension or high blood pressure.
On Thursday, Mitchell carried out his normal routine of helping people look good and live well.
He regularly asks customers if they’d like a screening but said it’s completely optional.
“We don’t push it on anyone. You know, we offer it,” he said.
In fact, in 40 minutes, he offered screenings to two customers. One politely declined, but the other, Christopher Williams, opted in.
“You go to a doctor’s office,” he said, “usually the environment’s a little scarier, you don’t know what’s going to happen, what to expect.”
“You come in here,” Williams said, “you get a haircut and checking the blood pressure, and that’s it.”
On Thursday, Sunjay Letchuman, a second-year student at the Mt. Sinai Icahn School of Medicine, was at the barbershop.
He is the co-author of a report recently published in the Mayo Clinic Proceedings, a medical publication with a national and international profile.
As Dr. Helen Fernandez, Letchuman’s medical school professor and advisor, said in an interview, Denny Moe’s health actions and interactions make him a vital instructor in his own right.
“This is a way to have people to continue building community,” Fernandez said, “because they’re working towards a goal — they’re working towards improving their health.”
In his report in the Mayo Clinic Proceedings, Letchuman writes that screenings like those done at Denny Moe’s in Harlem can help make all communities healthier nationwide.
“The data show,” Letchuman said, “that blood pressures go down when barbers have conversations about blood pressure and take blood pressures, and then partner with a hospital or clinic for follow-up care.”
“We know that this works,” he added.
The report goes on to say that simple but vital programs like the one at Denny Moe’s also happen at some libraries, laundromats, and even dollar stores in both urban and rural areas.
Those need to be expanded, Letchuman said.