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Stephen B. Thomas, Ph.D.

Stephen B. Thomas, Ph.D.

University of Pittsburgh Schools of the Health Sciences

A Life-Saving Haircut? Health Care Providers To Give Screenings At Local Barbershops, Beauty Salons

Fifth annual ‘Take a Health Professional to the People Day’ organized by University of Pittsburgh’s Center for Minority Health

PITTSBURGH, August 30, 2006 — Regular visits to the doctor’s office are an important part of staying healthy, yet many people do not have a primary care physician with whom they can schedule routine checkups. For African-Americans, who face an increased risk of developing a variety of conditions and suffering worse outcomes from them, establishing a “medical home” is crucial in maintaining physical and mental health.

To reach out to people who might not otherwise have many interactions with health care providers, the University of Pittsburgh Graduate School of Public Health’s (GSPH) Center for Minority Health (CMH) will present the fifth annual “Take a Health Professional to the People Day” on Tuesday, Sept. 19, at ten local barbershops and beauty salons. Teams of volunteer physicians, nurses, public health educators, dentists, pharmacists and other health professionals and advocates will travel to East End, Hill District and Oakland neighborhoods as part of CMH’s novel effort to provide potentially life-saving information and health screenings and to build trust needed to create healthy African-American families.

Pitt’s award winning Take a Health Professional to the People Day is CMH’s unique version of the national “Take a Loved One for a Checkup Day” initiative, which is part of the national campaign to eliminate racial and ethnic health disparities and sponsored by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS).

According to Stephen B. Thomas, Ph.D., director of CMH and the Philip Hallen Professor of Community Health and Social Justice at GSPH, one of the event’s goals is to provide a bridge for health professionals to engage the African-American community in health screenings for diabetes, cancer, hypertension and preventable conditions. It also creates an opportunity for African-Americans with no medical home or those who may be hesitant to visit the doctor’s office to talk about issues in the comfort of the local barbershop or beauty salon.

“We know now more than ever about how to prevent and control chronic diseases that far too many African-Americans experience,” Dr. Thomas said. “By focusing on neighborhoods that have been identified as communities in which access to care is a major issue, we hope to connect with people who need additional resources the most.”

The University of Pittsburgh School of Pharmacy again will partner with CMH in this event to highlight the important contributions that pharmacists make to the health and wellness of their communities. As the pharmacist’s role in the health care system continues to expand and evolve, these practitioners are a valuable resource for health-related information, according to Patricia Kroboth, Ph.D., dean of the School of Pharmacy and professor of pharmaceutical sciences.

“Because pharmacists are so accessible to the community, we have a unique opportunity to answer questions on a number of topics,” Dr. Kroboth said. “In addition to helping people understand their medications, pharmacists can provide advice on managing a variety of aspects of chronic conditions.”

The School of Pharmacy and CMH are encouraging people to bring their medications with them to the barbershops and beauty salons so that the participating pharmacists can review the medications.

By delivering disease prevention information in trusted settings such as barbershops and beauty salons, which tend to be neighborhood social network hubs, community-based initiatives like Take a Health Professional to the People Day can help to close the health disparity gap. Additionally, many of the barbers and salon operators continue to be lay health advocates throughout the year and are certified by the Red Cross in cardiopulmonary resuscitation. Another benefit of the program is the opportunity to promote cultural understanding between health professionals and the black community. In 2005, approximately 100 health professionals participated in the program, which marked the first visit to a black barbershop or beauty salon for many of the volunteers.

Take a Health Professional to the People Day activities will take place at the following barbershop and beauty salons, from 10 a.m. until 5 p.m:

*Locations marked with an asterisk have been certified as prostate screening sites.

The Natural Choice
111 Meyran Ave., Oakland

Aiken’s Quality Cuts
4523 Centre Ave., Oakland

Mark Anthony Beauty Salon
311 S. Craig St., Oakland

Wade’s Barber Shop*
7223 Kelly St., Homewood

Willie Tee’s Barber Shop
7205 Frankstown Ave., Homewood

A Second Glance Wellness Spa and Salon
215 N. Highland Ave., East Liberty

Bat’s Barbershop*
5911 Penn Ave., East Liberty

Hamm’s Barber Shop
2178 Centre Ave., Hill District

Big Tom’s Full Service Barber Shop
2042 Centre Ave., Hill District

Ms. Ida’s Epiphany Barber Shop
822 Wood St., Wilkinsburg

For additional information on Take a Health Professional to the People Day, please contact the Center for Minority Health at 412-624-5665 or visit the Center’s Web site at www.cmh.pitt.edu.

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