Barbershop Health Initiative Bridges a Gap

Feel Good Magazine     Summer 2022

In 2019, when a barber in a local shop suffered a heart attack and passed away, the shop owner reached out to Premier Health for better health resources in his community. The health system responded by joining forces with three barbershops in Montgomery County, and the Barbershop Health Initiative (BHI) was launched.

The BHI is a community-based program designed to increase awareness of chronic health conditions and promote healthy lifestyle choices within African American communities. It emphasizes the importance of prevention, early detection, disease self-management, and the benefits of healthy living, offering health screenings and education at area barbershops.

“To have a notable health partner come into the place sacred to our culture and provide health services that many shy away from speaks volumes about the impact they want to have on our community,” says Jonathan Cain, owner of City Stars Unlimited Barber and Salon in Dayton. “The BHI has been a game changer.”

Greater Access To Care

Since 2019, the program has provided more than 370 preventive screenings to shop customers and the local community. The number of participating shops has increased to five, with plans to add barbershops in Butler, Warren, and Miami counties this summer.

“The BHI is about reaching people where they live and interact, which supports Premier Health’s commitment to diversity, inclusion, equity, and belonging,” says Sumayyah Shermadou, program coordinator for Premier Community Health. “BHI helps bridge the gap in access to health care, especially for those who may not have access or a physician. Learning about their health at the screenings often leads to scheduling an appointment to learn more.”

Life-Saving Support

Automatic external defibrillators (AED), medical devices that send an electric pulse to the heart to restore normal heartbeat in the event of an emergency, recently were placed in the program’s five partnering barbershops. Each barber received CPR, AED, and first aid training and was certified by the American Heart Association. “Being trained and having an AED can play a large role in saving someone’s life while waiting for help to arrive,” Shermadou says.

Cain says that he sees the effect the program has had on his own father, co-owner of his barbershop. “As far as I can remember, he never went to the doctor’s office,” Cain recalls. “Since the BHI, he took control of his health… he depends on that mobile health unit to pull up so he can see the positive progress he’ s made.”

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Sumayyah Shermadou, MPH, CHES

Program Cooridnator