Along with a haircut, customers at
Brick’s barbershop in Albany recently had their blood pressure taken as part of
a new community initiative to address health concerns of at-risk individuals in
the Albany community.
When two readings showed his blood
pressure was higher than normal, Albany resident Eric Kersey said he knew what
it was time to do. “I’ve got to make an appointment with my primary and handle
this high blood pressure,” he said.
And that’s exactly the point,
according to Richard Blinkhorn, MD,
chair of the Department of Medicine. “It is our hope that individuals follow up
and make health and lifestyle changes that can significantly lower the risk of
dying from this ‘silent killer,’”he said.
Hypertension, a major cause of heart
attacks, strokes and kidney disease, affects approximately one in three adults
in the United States, with African-American men at a particularly high risk, with
death rates from hypertension-related conditions three times higher than in
white men. It is believed that genetics, as well as dietary and social issues,
may contribute to this disparity.
Albany Med and community partners
Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity and the George Biddle Kelley Foundation (GBK) held
the first-ever “barbershop health clinic” at Brick’s as part of the initiative,
“Cut Hypertension!” All customers who had their blood pressure read received a
$5 off coupon for a haircut.
“By partnering with a health care
institution like Albany Medical Center on this important outreach initiative,
together we are helping address head-on a major health issue facing African-American
members of our community,” said Christopher Ellis, CEO of GBK.
Deryl McCray, co-owner of Brick’s,
said he was happy to host the event to get the word out about hypertension, a
condition he learned he had three years ago.“This health issue plagues our
community,” he said, adding that his barbershop is a hub where people share
information and feel comfortable.
“When you link health efforts to
your community, then the circle of people who are working with you and
encouraging you to get care and stay on the right track is so much better,” Dr.
As part of Albany Medical College’s Service
Learning Program, medical students checked blood pressures and provided
important information, explained Ingrid
Allard, MD, associate dean for Community Outreach and Medical Education.
Dr. Allard said experience out in the field is invaluable for medical students.
“Sometimes when they are studying,
spending time in the library, taking exams, they forget why they went to
medical school. This reminds them,” she said.
hand was a team from Albany Med’s Delivery System Reform Incentive Payment
project, who assisted participants with questions about insurance paperwork and
obtaining a primary care provider, if needed. “Our
participation in this event is important to the community in terms of ensuring
that individuals most impacted by Medicaid redesign are aware of what’s
occurring across the region,” said George
Clifford, PhD, MPA, executive director of the Center for Health Systems