Producer's note: All photos featured in this piece were taken before the COVID-19 pandemic.
In this episode of HealthChangers, we visit a barbershop that’s helping African American men focus on heart health and keep their blood pressure under control. This innovative program is called “Cuts and Checks,” and there are similar initiatives in at least eight cities across the country.
First, we’ll hear from some of the people involved in getting the Cuts and Checks program up and running. They’re with North by Northeast, the only primary care clinic in Oregon devoted to African American/Black health. We’ll hear from North by Northeast Co-Founder Doctor Jill Ginsberg as well as Sharetta Butcher, a community health care worker who oversees the Cuts and Checks program. We’ll also hear from Doctor Kenji Taylor, a physician who helped start a similar program in the San Francisco Bay Area. Our interview was conducted by Kilaa Slaughter-Scott, a Cambia employee and board member of North by Northeast.
Of course, health care initiatives like the Cuts and Checks program can only work with the full partnership of community leaders. Follow along as we meet one of the people who’s been key to making the program work. Jamaal Lane is the owner of Champions Barbershop and Champions Barbering Institute. We spoke with Jamaal in his northeast Portland barbershop. Our conversation took place last year, before the coronavirus pandemic hit.
On a future episode of HealthChangers, we’ll revisit Champions as well as North by Northeast to talk about how the pandemic has disproportionately affected communities of color and how calls for long overdue racial justice, over the past year, have helped shine a light on injustices in our health care system.
North by Northeast Community Health Center
Kilaa Slaughter-Scott (KS): Dr. Jill, can you tell us about North by Northeast? How did the idea come about and what was the need for North by Northeast when it was started?
Dr. Jill Ginsberg (JG): Thinking back to 2005 before Obamacare, there were a lot of people in Portland, Oregon who didn't have health insurance and weren't able to see a doctor for very common and easily manageable conditions like high blood pressure – so, that was the reason for starting North by Northeast. We wanted to provide health care services to people that weren't otherwise able to get them. When we started, we were a free clinic, mostly volunteer run. We started right away focusing on high blood pressure and diabetes and we've continued focusing on those things. Over the years, we've become more and more focused on serving the African American community in our city.
KS: I have some questions about the Cuts and Checks program. It was launched in April 2015. It advances health equity and improves heart health of African American men by engaging barbers as advocates for community health. Wow. Let's just start off by saying that is incredibly innovative.
JG: Mm-hmm (affirmative).
KS: Can you tell us more about how the program was started? Tell us about the program itself and what made you go out and actually seek to do the program?
Sharetta Butcher (SB): It wasn't like a master plan of, “let's roll this out.” It was really that African American men have the highest blood pressure in the world. Like Dr. Jill said, our clinic moved towards serving the African American community. We were seeing folks coming through the door with really high blood pressures. We wanted to get on the front end of that and go out into the community and meet people where they're at to educate and inform them about blood pressure. Susie and I were talking about how to go about reaching folks in the community. There were only two large places that African American people hung out, either at church or at the barber or beauty shop. Since it was the men that had the highest blood pressure, we decided to go forth into the barbershop and talk to them.
The first barbershop that I went to, it was really kind of funny. The owner was real open to us coming in and taking the blood pressures but he put me outside before people could walk into the barbershop, so I was trying to stop them from going into the shop to get their blood pressure. I was like, “this isn't working. I need to be on the inside to have more of an impact.” We discussed it, made some adjustments and through that, it really opened up the door. These barbershops signed on to be heart attack free zones, so that how our Cuts and Checks program pretty much started.
KS: Wow. You identified a problem, Black men having the leading high blood pressure in the world, thought of a solution that works for this community and decided to go meet the people who are most vulnerable where they're at.
KS: Can you tell us a little bit more about how you engaged the barbers to become advocates for the Cuts and Checks program?
SB: Let’s back up a little bit about the culture of the barbershop. As you know, it's a hangout. It's a place where guys come to, I would say, let their hair down. The atmosphere in the barbershop was a little different when I was in there taking the blood pressures. What I was discussing with Dr. Jill and Susie was that, “hey, it may be better if some Black men be a part of this.” We took two of our patients and we did a training. In fact, we had a couple of barbers come and get trained through Dr. Jill on how to take blood pressures and have some mild discussion about what that meant. They became our patient ambassadors. Our ambassadors took on the role of going into the barbershop and providing blood pressure checks, which I felt was a better fit.
I was great, but they were better. This sparked, I would say, more interest from the barbers about being a part of this movement. What ended up happening was that we branched out into more barbershops and decided to say, "hey, let's see what happens if our barbers are trained, how much more of a service can they be to their clients?" We were really working with the barbers on trying to have them incorporate taking blood pressure as part of their service. Just making it super natural, as soon as you put on the cape, put the cuff on their arm and go at it. Some were okay with doing that and others were like, “no, that's not what I want to do.” We respect that, but I do see that since the barbers have been trained, the ones that are actually doing it have also sparked more of an interest in the other barbers to want to be a part of it. We're still training barbers to be, I would say, Ambassadors of Health, in the barbershops. It's something catching on, but it's growing.
KS: Wow. So, it's like the gift that keeps on giving.
SB: There you go. Mm-hmm (affirmative).
KS: Yeah. Not only are you attacking a problem head on and providing a solution but you’re also empowering others with the tools to be able to provide these services in their own community.
…when you have a pharmacist who goes out to a barbershop and treats men there who have high blood pressure, their blood pressure is under control in 12 months and ninety percent of participants keep their blood pressure under control.
KS: Wow. Thank you Sharetta. So, Dr. Kenji, you lead a similar program called the Cut Hypertension Program. Can you tell us a little bit more about that?
Dr. Kenji Taylor (KT): Absolutely. The Cut Hypertension Program or CHP is a program I started as a medical student back in 2010 in Philadelphia and similar to what Sharetta was saying, it really came out of a need we were seeing in the community and information we had seen as Black medical students. These barbershop-based screening events and interventions were really effective at getting African American men into care. We saw in our community in Philadelphia, predominantly, the African American community, that this was an issue. It started out from the group of medical students there who had some personal relationships with some of the barbers where they got their haircut. We started doing screening events every couple of weeks. We would go into the barbershop and barbers would introduce us and encourage everyone to get their blood pressure checked.
We could then identify people who might have high blood pressure and try to refer them to clinics or back to their primary care doctor to get their blood pressure checked. Fast forward five years after medical school, that program had spread to another group in Atlanta through a health students’ organization there, where they had partnered with three different barbershops in Atlanta doing blood pressure screening events. Then it followed me to San Francisco where I trained at UCSF in the Bay Area. In the Bay Area, we have the opportunity to work with a group at UCSF called the Center for Excellence in Primary Care, where they actually had a health coaching curriculum for people who are in clinics to actually provide health coaching around health care. We wanted to adapt it for barbers.
We’ve now trained a couple of groups of barbers here in San Francisco and Oakland to take blood pressures and provide health coaching for people while we're not doing these screening events. The next step that we're working on is actually getting treatment out into the barbershops themselves for those men who have high blood pressure. The newest information that's come out of Los Angeles, from a study they did with barbershops, was that when you have a pharmacist who goes out to a barbershop and treats men there who have high blood pressure, their blood pressure is under control in 12 months and ninety percent of participants keep their blood pressure under control. That was a huge finding. The question that all of us who've been doing a lot of this work for so many years is, “how do you scale that across different geographies? Different cities? In different health care systems? How do you take something that seems so effective sort of in a randomized controlled trial? And how do you make that into a sustainable program?”
KS: Sharetta, we talked with Jamaal at the Champions Barbering Institute, and we asked him a similar question. Can you please tell me, what is your vision for the Cuts and Checks program for the future?
SB: My vision would be that the barbers would embrace the role of being, I would say, a community ambassador barber for hypertension, with their clients that they take their blood pressures for and connect with resources and educational materials. I see the community becoming healthier. I see the African American men, who have hypertension like Dr. Kenji said, below goal. That's important, because it affects the families as well. It's not just the men but it's also the families.
JG: One of the things we've been able to do through our partnership with one of the shops in our neighborhood is, this couple who owned a barbershop decided to start a barber college. That's Jamaal and Christina Lane. Through our relationship with them, that we had built through the Cuts and Checks program, we worked together to provide supplemental curriculum for the barber students around community health. That's a way to increase the workforce that's addressing these issues. It takes a long time to train a physician or a nurse practitioner or a physician’s assistant, but barbers get their certification in about a year. We saw that barbers with more information around community health, issues of diabetes, high blood pressure, and how to navigate the health system can really be great advocates and provide a bridge to the health care system that hasn't always been so friendly to the folks that we're serving.
By the time he left our office, he had a prescription for blood pressure medicine and health insurance. We were able to get him signed up for our Medicaid program right then and there. That’s the kind of story that we see all the time, people who otherwise would fall through these giant cracks in our system.
KS: Dr. Jill and Dr. Kenji, can either one of you share any personal stories about the impact of these programs?
JG: I can start. We had a man walk in our door. He had gotten his blood pressure checked at a barbershop and was told that his blood pressure was high and he should see a doctor. He didn't have a doctor and hadn't been to a doctor for years, so he came to North by Northeast Community Health Center, where Sharetta checked his blood pressure. She called me and said, "We've got a community member downstairs with a blood pressure of 204 over 125," which is dangerously high. Normal blood pressure is 120 over 80 or below. I went and talked with him and found out a little more about his story. He had no health insurance, no doctor.
By the time he left our office, he had a prescription for blood pressure medicine and health insurance. We were able to get him signed up for our Medicaid program right then and there. That’s the kind of story that we see all the time, people who otherwise would fall through these giant cracks in our system. And we're going to be able to help that guy and keep him from having a stroke or heart attack so he can be there for his family.
KS: That is very powerful. I mean, through the programs, you guys are saving lives while also working on preventative health measures. There are health disparities in the community. We are all aware of those and programs like Cuts and Checks and the Cut Hypertension Program are working in our community. This is what HealthChangers is all about, is finding innovative solutions that work within the communities that we live and serve. Health care is not a one size fits all. You guys are doing great things in your community. What can others learn from a program like Cuts and Checks?
SB: I would say, meeting people where they're at. Like I said, we identified a problem and instead of being open and then just saying, "hey, we serve the African American community, come see us," we actually packed up our doctor bag and went out into the community to take the service to them. We met them in an environment that they're comfortable in, that they trust, especially being around or being parts of systems that we know that there's a lot of mistrust for people of color. Being able to offer that to them in their safe space, I feel has an effect. In 2015, when we first started the program, we did 565 blood pressure checks. In 2019, we did 1,324. You can see that it doubled. It wasn't just one person, it was the impact of our patient ambassadors, our barbers, our medical director. Different folks coming from different angles of meeting people where they're at to be able to bring this education and service.
Not only are they going to barbering school to get a license but they’re also learning health-related tools to help save lives and serve our community.
KS: Dr. Jill, any words from you?
JG: Yeah. As a physician, it's humbling to work in the community when you're not in your office where you've got all your stuff, your equipment, maybe you've got a white coat that you put on. We all, as health care professionals, have to be humble and understand that there are a lot of things we don't know. A lot of things about the community, if we're not from that community that we don't understand. Allowing the community to teach us as we do this work is one of the things that I hope we can all continue to learn.
KS: When we talked with Jamaal at the Champions Barbering Institute, we had the opportunity to see the students in action, understanding that not only are they going to barbering school to get a license but they’re also learning health-related tools to help save lives and serve our community. It was very inspirational to be able to see that work in action. Speaking of inspiration, can you tell us why you were personally investing in this type of program and why is it personally meaningful to you?
JG: For me, this work around hypertension, strokes and heart attacks is very personal. When I was 17, my dad died suddenly from a heart attack and he hadn't gone to doctors. He didn't really trust doctors. Even though I'm white and my dad was a professional, he still had a lot of the same issues that we see in the folks that we serve today. When I think about people not having heart attacks and strokes, I think about kids that are able to grow up and have their dads and have their family intact. That's really personal to me.
SB: I think why I'm really attached to this work is because, growing up in an African American community, we looked at hypertension, diabetes, those chronic issues, as part of life. African Americans, it wasn't a big thing to have hypertension. It was accepted. Having diabetes was accepted. When I came to North by Northeast and really understanding the health chronic issues, that this stuff is preventable, this is something that's inspired me. It’s like, I can help make a change back in on this matter. I can educate people, the community, we can talk about that this is not a normal issue that families face. To be able to see folks’ lives change and seeing African American men growing with their families and not having them... I mean, we have a lot of systems that take our African American men away from our families, so seeing them being able to be healthy and stay and live long lives is important to me. To be able to be a part of helping them see that, it's been really inspiring to me.
KS: That's awesome. And Dr. Kenji, for you?
KT: Yes. Similarly, Jill, it's so interesting. This hasn't come up over the past year or so that we've been talking. We share a similar story, two years before I started my medical school, my father who's African American also passed away suddenly from a massive heart attack. He never went to go see a doctor. He was uninsured. Couldn't afford to go and get the bill at that time. He grew up in the South with my aunts and uncles at a time when segregation was still very alive and real. Before going to medical school, I didn't realize that this was a thing, really, and I think is this, when I got to medical school and realized that that one, African Americans are such at risk for cardiovascular disease, in particular high blood pressure, that is very, very preventable.
The impacts of it really hit our community much harder than any other community in this country, I think, we’re sort of a lot of just “aha moments” and light bulbs that came on in my mind in terms of, what kind of doctor I wanted to be, and also what kind of work and connections I could make into the community as a physician using that platform.
I've continued to see, unfortunately, those same stories. Whether it's someone who comes to the emergency room or someone who I see in clinics who's had a stroke, or whose kidneys have gone out and they're on dialysis, or they have heart failure, they have a heart attack because their blood pressure has been uncontrolled for years and years and years. They just don't have the information that's out there to get them into care. There are so many barriers, too, for a lot of these guys to get into the system, the way it's set up right now. I think that's always been from a very personal place but also just reinforced in my daily experiences as a family physician.
KS: Thank you for sharing that. I am Kilaa Slaughter-Scott and not only do I work for Cambia Health Solutions, I also serve on the board for North by Northeast Community Health Center. The reason why it was so important for me to serve on a board like North by Northeast’s is because not only am I from Portland and grew up in the community, I am among the community. I have seen my community impacted by preventable diseases that we have normalized. I always wanted to provide impact in my community.
How can I, behind the closed doors, help to change our community? How do I help to make our community better? I've always had that passion. Having the opportunity to serve on a board like North by Northeast and have the support of a company like Cambia, it's just a dream come true for me. I think it's important for all of us to work together as a community, to help change our thought process for all people. How can we think about being healthy? What does that look like for our community? How do we empower and support programs like Cuts and Checks and the Cut Hypertension Program to empower community members? That is my personal reason of why I serve. I would like to say a big thank you to everyone for joining us today. Dr. Jill, Sharetta, and Dr. Kenji.
SB: Thank you.
JG: Thanks so much.
KT: Thank you. Thank you very much.
Champions Barbershop and Champions Barbering Institute
Of course, health care initiatives like the Cuts and Checks program can only work with the full partnership of community leaders. Next, we’re going to meet one of the people who’s been key to making the program work. Jamaal Lane is the owner of Champions Barber Shop and Champions Barbering Institute. I spoke with Jamaal in his northeast Portland barbershop, our conversation was recorded last year, before the pandemic hit.
Kilaa Slaughter-Scott (KS): Jamaal, can you tell us a little bit about your background and the Champions Barbering Institute, and how you got where you are today?
Jamaal Lane (JL): I can do that. Thanks for asking, thanks for having me. I'm a proud native of Northeast Portland and when I was in middle school at Harriet Tubman Middle School back in, '88, '89, somewhere in there, fashion was everything, hair was everything back then. Hip hop was heavy and the way you wore your hair was very much a part of who you were. My mom, she tried her hand at cutting my hair a few times and to not absolutely good results. I had to take things into my own hands. In the beginning, it wasn't something that I was very good at but it did come to me naturally as I began to cut my own hair. It actually looked a lot better than a lot of people’s who were going to the barbershop.
At a young age, man, I felt like it was a gift that was given to me and I, not even knowingly, began to cultivate my barbering skills as a young man. I began to cut my hair, cut my family's hair, friends’ hair in middle school and in the beginning of high school as well. That kept me out of the barbershop, so I didn't really go to the barbershop much. I didn't know what it was to really be a professional barber, but the skill of barbering was something that I was developing. I didn't really have the desire to be a barber, because I didn't know what it really meant to be one but as I got older, I began to cut more and more hair. Learning life's lessons, becoming a young adult, I found myself in different areas of employment.
When looked at the complexion of the barber school or cosmetology school industry, it all was the same. I felt like, '"why can't we be a part of this, too?"
I ended up going to barber school because of a car accident. It took me out of doing some of the laborious jobs that I was doing. I decided, I said, “hey, I might as well go and do something I already know how to do,” which was cutting hair. In 2003, well, actually, 2002, I enrolled at Beau Monde School of Hair Design in downtown Portland and became a professional in 2003. From there, I took my first position, which was at Reggie's Barbershop. I don't know, it wasn't one of the first barbershops, but it was a barbershop that stood out, should I say, in my generation. I started there, built a name for myself over the course of about five years and opened up the first Champions Barbershop in 2008.
That was a great experience, I did a lot of work in that shop. It was a 10-chair shop or we built it up to be a 10-chair shop and focused on being a pillar in the community, a staple in the community. We wanted to bring that feel back and we definitely accomplished that. We ended up opening up another location four years later. In 2012, we opened up another shop out in Beaverton. I'd say over the course of those years, I realized that I really had that entrepreneurial spirit about myself.
Learning how to be a professional barber and learning how to be a shop owner all at the same time, turned out to be a great match for me. It took a whole lot of work, but it turned out to be a great move for me and my family. In 2012, opening up the shop, starting to see the talent coming to the shop it wasn't what it should have been. I didn't feel like the barbers were getting the attention that they needed going through school and I felt like me having to retrain them on all these different things, I was doing work that the school should have done. That was bothering me a lot. It was very frustrating.
When looked at the complexion of the barber school or cosmetology school industry, it all was the same. I felt like “why can't we be a part of this, too?” I would always come home to my wife and vent about the whole situation. I was so frustrated and she said, "Why don't you open up the school?" I said, "Yeah, why don't I open up a school? I'll open up a school, we gon’ open up a school." So, it started from there. We just kept speaking it into existence, then decided to move forward with the work to make it happen. It's a beautiful thing right now.
KS: You saw a gap in your community and you decided to step in and bridge the gap.
JL: Mm-hmm (affirmative).
At the barbershop, you talk about everything. Why not talk about your health and making sure that you’re alright?
KS: Speaking of stepping in and bridging gaps, let's talk a little bit about the Cuts and Checks program through North by Northeast. How did the Champions Barbering Institute become involved with the Cuts and Checks program and why was it important for you personally to get involved?
JL: This goes back awhile to me and Dr. Jill. I don't even remember how we even met, honestly. I think she just came into the barbershop one day, saying "Hey, I'm Dr. Jill what's up?" She was so cool with her approach and how she came to shop, I took to her a little bit. We started this conversation, her and Sharetta Butcher, who also came to the shop with the idea. It was just an idea at first and I thought it was a cool one. They wanted to involve the barbershop to bridge that gap between Black men in the community and good health and providing a place for them to actually get their blood pressure checked amongst other things, right at the place where they're comfortable.
A lot of us don't go to the doctor out of fear or just not being comfortable, but we always go to the barbershop. I just thought it was a great idea. It was something that we talked about and we just worked towards. It started in the barbershop and being able to train the barbers on how to converse with their clients about health issues and ask them if they experiencing anything abnormal, when was the last time they had their blood pressure checked? Just having that conversation, because at the barbershop, you talk about everything. Why not talk about your health and making sure that you’re alright? That’s how that started at the barbershop.
Then, it was crazy because we had conversations, me and Dr. Jill, had conversations about how we both were talking about moving locations at that time. They were going to move to the clinic and we were talking about moving the shop. We was like, "well, how about we just have a shop with the school, with the clinic." We were talking about opening up the school and it was like, "why don't we just put them together?" I ain't never seen nothing like that. We have a health clinic in the barber college and then we could integrate the Cuts and Checks program together and boom, we got something that we can put all over the world.
We just continued to talk about it. That immediate thing didn't happen but because of the conversation, that's where the scholars program was birthed and being able to have students here at the school learn how to be a part of the Cuts and Checks program and learn all the same things. As opposed to already being a professional in the shop, they can go into the shop, learning or knowing these skills and that's just another feather in their hat as a professional barber. So, yeah, that's how that started.
We've had situations where people have had extremely high blood pressure and had they not got that check in the barbershop there is no telling what would have been the result of that.
KS: Jamaal, you mentioned that people come into the barbershops and they talk about almost anything. It's pretty well known that within the Black and brown communities that barbershops are a sacred place. It's a safe haven for men to be able to come in and have what we call therapy. It's therapy a lot of the time. Why did you allow a program like Cuts and Checks to be embedded in the barbershop? Did you feel that you had a responsibility to play at all in bettering the lives of people in the community? Can you tell us a little bit about why you decided to make this investment?
JL: Yeah, absolutely. Well, for one, Champions Barbershop, when we started out and still today, it's all about the community and playing our role in the community to the fullest, however we can. The Cuts and Checks program is about showing it, you can say it, but you got to actually do something. I felt like this was another way for us to be active in our support of the community. Health is everything, you know what I mean? It's one thing to look good, but you got to take care of yourself as well. Being at the barbershop is such a trusted place. People are willing to open up a little bit more about the things that are going on in their lives. Why wouldn't you do this type of thing in the barbershop? So, that's why I opened my doors up for it. It was just another way to help the men in our community be better, you know what I'm saying? You got to start with yourself, health wise in order to do that, so I did feel like it was responsibility, definitely.
KS: Having that trust factor, talking about things other than in sports, what's going on and pop culture or the streets and having to talk about something a lot more serious, like health, it's something that at times people could shy away from. By allowing Cuts & Checks to be a part of the Barbering Institute and bringing it into the shop, you were bringing up a more serious topic. Can you tell us how have people reacted to this program?
JL: It's been a great reaction I would say. In the beginning, I think that people didn't know what was going on. They're like "you're doing blood pressure checks in the barbershop like I'm just trying to get my haircut." Then there were other people were like, "oh, absolutely, man. I would love to get my blood pressure checked. I don't know when the last time I'd been to the doctor to get my blood pressure checked." Some people was with it, some people wasn't, but because they see the benefit behind it, more people become receptive to it. The cool thing that people are seeing from having those checks in the barbershop, is that you might find out some things that you wouldn't have known about otherwise.
Then from there comes being grateful that that opportunity was there for them to get that blood pressure checked, because things could have been bad. We've had situations where people have had extremely high blood pressure and had they not got that check in the barbershop there is no telling what would have been the result of that. It's been received very well. The barbers have adapted to it and found their place in it. I think it's just a beautiful thing the community understands now what it is we're trying to do from it. Our partnership with North by Northeast has done nothing but get stronger because of it.
They study nutrition, diabetes, skin and hair disorders, high blood pressure, all those different things. That gives our students even more knowledge that they can carry into the barbershop, which is a great thing.
KS: That's excellent, Jamaal. Can you tell us a little bit more about the health-related practices that students are learning going through the Barbering Institute?
JL: It's wild how everything has come full circle with that, because, going back to the ancient times of barbering, not only did we cut hair but we were the healers, you know what I mean? The only people that were allowed to actually remove hair were like the high priests. Of course, though, they were the same ones that were entrusted with healing and different medical procedures, the medicine man was also the same person that removed hair. This was the person that looked out for the health and wellbeing of that immediate community or tribe, however you want to look at it. We still want to hold true to that. This is a great way to do that with the Cuts and Checks program. We make sure that we're continuing that legacy of making sure that the community is healthy, not only looking good.
They study nutrition, diabetes, skin and hair disorders, high blood pressure, all those different things. That gives our students even more knowledge that they can carry into the barbershop, which is a great thing. That just makes them more valuable to any shop that they go to and even more valuable to our community as a whole. I think that's big. It's huge, actually.
KS: Jamaal, you're in this every day. A lot of times when people are making change, they don't see the bigger impact of the change that they're making in their communities. You're doing this, this is implemented in the Barbering Institute. You guys have acquired the skills and the knowledge to be able to go out and execute into our community. It's natural when you're sitting down with your clients, having conversations, putting that blood pressure cuff on and checking for signs of high blood pressure. Can you tell me, what advice would you give to anyone who was looking to make change as it applies to health care in this country?
JL: If it's on your mind on your heart, that this is something that you should be involved in, don't hesitate. I think it's something that's extremely important. If it isn't on your mind or in your heart at the time, do some research. Take some time to do some research on the reality of health in your community, especially in the Black community and hopefully that was stir up, you know what I mean? The reasoning for you to get involved, because it's something that has to happen. We all need to be taking better care of ourselves. There's a lot of things out there, generationally and systematically, that have put us at a disadvantage when it comes to health care and taking care of ourselves. We have to take it upon ourselves to make sure that we're taking care of it.
I'm just thankful that we have organizations like North by Northeast that are willing to bring this to the forefront and team up with the barbershops, because it's a great partnership and it's very much needed. We're able to reach even more people. Only so many people can be taken care of in one spot but when we able to branch out, even more people can be taken care of from it. I say go for it. This is something that needs to be happening all over the country, all over the world for that matter. For our community right here in Northeast Portland, we got to make it happen.
Allowing that barber chair to be that place of connection is huge. That's huge. It's something that's definitely a need and we are going to continue to do it.
KS: All right, Jamaal, so what I hear you saying is if people have a cause on their mind or on their hearts to actually get up and do something about it. It starts with community. We do know and understand that there are health care disparities within Black and brown communities. Let's focus on the community that we work in and we live in and we serve. Can you tell us a little bit more about how you have seen how this program has worked in your community and the people that you serve?
JL: Well, I've seen them up close and personal, situations that have benefited clients of mine. Clients that have come in, you can tell that something wasn't quite right. First, you educate them after you get a certain feedback from them on how they've been feeling or what they've been experienced. Then, when you give them that check and you realize that those scores are through the roof and then you send them to the clinic. They go to the clinic just to find out that they were borderline this or borderline that, or maybe they didn't have health insurance. The clinic can stand in the gap and get them to where they need to be, get them the medication that they need, get them insurance or whatnot, and put them in a better place.
I've had people come back to me so thankful and appreciative for having that opportunity in the barbershop because they probably would not have done it and knows what the situation would have been had they not got that help. I’ve seen numerous cases of that. It's a reality that people need it and aren't going to the doctor the way they need to, so allowing that barber chair to be that place of connection is huge. That's huge. It's something that's definitely a need and we are going to continue to do it.
KS: Awesome. Thank you, Jamaal. This is powerful, what Champions Barbershop and Barbering Institute is doing in partnership with North by Northeast. Thank you for allowing us to sit here and talk to you today at Champions Barbering Institute, sitting here in the classroom with Jamaal and some students. We really appreciate your time and thank you for being a HealthChanger.
JL: Thank you very much for having me, continuing to look forward to being part of my community in various ways. Maybe we can do some more things with HealthChangers in the future, and yeah, it'd be great.
That wraps up this episode of “HealthChangers.” You can find more information on all of our episodes at cambiahealth.com. You can also follow us on Twitter at @cambia. You can now find HealthChangers episodes on all of your favorite platforms. Just search for “HealthChangers” on platforms like Apple Podcasts, Spotify, and iHeartRADIO. Please subscribe and leave a review. Thanks for listening.
Links and Resources
- Episode Direct Download Link
- Kilaa Slaughter-Scott is a board member of North by Northeast Community Health Center
- Dr. Jill Ginsberg is the Medical Director of North by Northeast Community Health Center
- Sharetta Butcher is a Community Health Worker and Community Care Director at North by Northeast Community Health Center
- Jamaal Lane is the founder of Champions Barbershop and Champions Barbering Institute
- Dr. Kenji Taylor leads the Cut Hypertension Program
- Cuts and Checks is run by North by Northeast Community Health Center
- North by Northeast Community Health Center