Not ‘just a trim’
A man walked into a barbershop to get a haircut and walked out understanding, for the first time, that he had high blood pressure. This is not a punchline: It’s the story of some of many African-American men who’ve participated in barbershop-based health interventions. Some, like The Black Barbershop Health Outreach Program, enlist community and medical professional volunteers to offer on-site health screenings, education and referrals at black-owned barbershops. Others, like those studied by Dr. Joseph Ravenell, an associate professor of population health at New York University, train barbers to screen willing customers for hypertension. “Sometimes black men trust their barbers more than their doctors,” Ravenell said at an urban health workshop hosted by the Association of Health Care Journalists. Where else can people get some health services — without the white coat?
Firefighters in Manchester, New Hampshire, extinguish more than one type of emergency: Outside of their jobs’ namesake, the professionals also open their doors to anyone looking for help with a substance misuse disorder. At the so-called “safe stations,” the first responders check vital signs, help get people to hospitals or medical facilities when necessary and refer individuals to recovery and support services. The model, which attracts people who otherwise would delay or avoid seeking help, is one New York City First Lady Chirlane McCray looked to when developing ThriveNYC, which also aims to fill gaps in mental health access, she said at the conference.
Libraries “are frequently forced to deal with people’s health problems,” says Brian Rahmer, vice president of health and housing at Enterprise Community Partners, a national nonprofit that connects low- and middle-income communities to health care, school and job opportunities through affordable housing. But instead of shooing people out, at least one library — now the South Philadelphia Community Health and Literacy Center — has invited them in as part of a partnership between the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia and the city that established pediatric and primary care clinics on the library’s top floors. “Residents can come to this state-of-the-art building for one-stop shopping — for healthcare, education and recreation,” Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney said in a press release.
Consult with a dietitian at the supermarket.
Think working with a nutritionist always means paying to sit in an office with a professional? Think again: There may very well be a dietitian on-hand at your local supermarket whose job is to help you (for free) with things like label reading, meal planning and cooking. While 10 years ago there were only about 100 retail dietitians working in supermarkets nationwide, today there are about 1,400 in stores including ShopRite, Hy-Vee and Kroger, says Phil Lempert, president and CEO of the Retail Dietitians Business Alliance. Schedule a consult with an RD, or take advantage of store tours showcasing things like how to shop for someone with diabetes, Lempert suggests.
It’s human nature to avoid things that are inconvenient, and health care services often are. Even folks with insurance may miss out on or delay care due to other commitments like work and taking care of kids, trouble getting timely appointments and difficulty getting to the facility, Rahmer says. Mobile health clinics — essentially health care services on wheels — are one way to meet people where they literally are. “By opening their doors directly into communities and leveraging existing community assets, MCHs can offer tailored, high-impact and affordable health care that responds dynamically to the community’s evolving needs,” the authors of a review of MHCs write. Find a clinic near you by searching Mobile Health Map.
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