bLACK MEN, HIGH BLOOD PRESSURE, mEMPHIS Methodist Le Bonheur Healthcare, barbershop

Methodist Le Bonheur Healthcare Partners With Local Memphis Barbershops To Help Improve Black Men’s Health

High blood pressure is one of the silent killers that gravely affects the Black community. Without proper screenings, death is almost inevitable. This is why Methodist Le Bonheur Healthcare in Tennessee has partnered with several local barbershops to help save some lives in the community.

According to Fox 13 Memphis, the initiative to get people screened for the deadly condition has been met with positive reactions from the barbershops participating in the program. The tests are free and can be found in Memphis and Shelby counties.

Methodist Le Bonheur Healthcare has confirmed that heart disease is the leading cause of death in Shelby and DeSoto counties. High blood pressure increases the chances of a heart attack and stroke.

“Heart disease disproportionately affects African-American males that typically don’t interact with the healthcare field,” said Marcus Ross, director of community engagement at Methodist. “So we felt like this program would be very influential.”

Jurek Williamson, owner of Kings Temple Barbershop, agrees with the initiative’s purpose and allowed the program to take place in his shop.

“I just love cutting hair. You know, this is something I feel like I was born to do,” said Williamson, whose passion for cutting hair started at the age of 12.

Knowing that people are always coming to the barbershop can help him help them stay and/or get healthy. “People are more comfortable in the barbershop sometimes because, you know, especially for me … it’s kind of like a men’s hospital,” he said.

The barbershop owner says that the blood pressure cuff will always have a place at his shop, there to help his clients pay attention to their health and adopt healthier habits.

“I see it as being the beginning of something much bigger,” Williamson said. “Five, 10 years from now, who knows? Every barbershop may require, you know, to have blood pressure.”

Ross says that if a customer’s blood pressure is high, barbershop workers can inform them of the risks and advise them on how to control it.

“They are given their numbers and also told to follow up with their primary care physician,” Ross said. “And if they don’t have one, they will be referred to one.”

Methodist hopes to expand outside the six barbershops currently participating in the weekly blood pressure screenings.