Madison Barbershop Promotes Black Men’s Health, Former Badger Football Player Sues Over Brain Injury Risk

Air Date:
Heard On Central Time
Emiliomtz03 (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

Concerned about other black men’s health after his own diagnosis with diabetes, a Madison resident opened a men’s health center in the back of a barbershop in 2007. We learn about what it has accomplished since then and the new plans to expand the health center. We also discuss a new case in which a former badger football player is suing over brain injury risk.

Featured in this Show

  • Madison Barbershop Serves As Health Center For Black Men

    Barber Jeff Patterson, better known as JP, hears tons of ideas at his barbershop in Madison.

    But when Aaron Perry pitched the idea for a men’s health center for black men on site at the shop, Patterson agreed, despite knowing there wasn’t any space for one.

    “It was something that I wanted to do,” he said of the request made by Perry, founder of Rebalanced-Life Wellness Association. “It made sense.”

    Eventually, space was set aside for the Men’s Health and Education Center inside JP Hair Design.

    The center will provide blood pressure screenings, body mass index calculations and advice on places to seek treatment for health problems. The creation of the center is in part a response to Perry hearing from the medical community that it had trouble engaging black men.

    “The barbershop has always played a significant social and cultural role in the black community,” Perry said. “If you want to reach them, you have to go where they’re at and that’s the barbershop.”

    The health center is in a prominent part of the shop, which attracts interest from patrons, Patterson said. Edgewood College nursing students help provide care during a weeks-long internship with the barbershop. Additionally, the clients trust the barbers, who can encourage them to seek care and treatment.

    “It changed how we talk in the shop,” Patterson said. “We talk about health. We can educate people and let them know how to deal with different ailments they may have.”

    One of the main health concerns for black men is heart disease, which can be signaled by high blood pressure. Perry said in April, the center conducted 84 blood pressure screenings and found that 68 percent of the men screened had high blood pressure.

    Some of the men who didn’t have health coverage are now getting help enrolling in BadgerCare.

    Diabetes and tooth pain are other areas of focus, Perry said.

    “We are doing oral screenings because we know that one of the areas that men tend to go to the ER is because of mouth pain,” he said.

    Grant dollars have helped the program get established at JP’s shop, and there is hope that the program and model will expand to other barbershops in and outside of Dane County, Perry said.

    We want Dane County to be kind of the leaders nationwide as incorporating health care, but in that barbershop setting,” he said. “I believe it’s the new health care model.”

    Perry said his organization is hoping to establish a barbershop health advisory committee to get other owners of barbershops for black and other minorities in Dane County together once a month to talk about the possibility of expanding the program to other sites.

    He said about three or four shops have committed, with others showing strong interest.

    “What we’ll do with that meeting is getting everyone together so we can have one mission and one voice throughout the county so that when we talk about different health challenges it can be a consistent message throughout all of the barbershops,” he said.

    Pitches to barbershop patrons to stop by the men’s health center aren’t always successful, with some men shying away from visiting it. But usually the men are eventually convinced to get the screenings, Patterson said.

    “They know if they need something they can come right to this barbershop where they trust the people here and get education on health and get blood pressure checked, so it’s here for them,” he said. “They may not go in today, but they may go in tomorrow.”

  • Barbershop Health Center Helping African-American Men Will Expand

    A health center inside a Madison barbershop is working to keep African-American men more informed about their health and get them on the path to treating problems. A new grant will allow its message to move into other barber shops as well. We talk with the man behind the idea about the disparities he’s trying to address and where he’s taking the project.

  • Former Wisconsin Football Player Joins Lawsuit Against NCAA Over Head Injuries

    Former University of Wisconsin linebacker Tony Megna is one of the first Badgers to join a lawsuit against the NCAA for risks associated with playing football, namely repeated head injuries. We speak with

Episode Credits

  • Rob Ferrett Host
  • Dean Knetter Producer
  • J. Carlisle Larsen Producer
  • Aaron Perry Guest
  • Jeff Patterson Guest
  • Luke Schaetzel Guest