Harlem Barbershops, Salons Double as Health Clinics

Barber Dennis "Denny Moe" Mitchell, 45, applies the cuff of an electronic blood pressure machine to Terrell Mack after his haircut at Denny Moe's Superstar Barbershop in New York June 8, 2011. (Photo courtesy of REUTERS/Shannon Stapleton)

By Jonathan Allen

Turning his head from side to side as he checks his reflection in the barbershop mirror, Terrell Mack seems pretty pleased with his haircut — a tight, neat crop — but he can’t get up from the chair just yet.

The hair-dusted cape is swept away with the usual toreador flourish.

Mack’s sleeve is pushed up and the cuff of an electronic blood pressure machine is tightened around his right arm. It rapidly inflates, as do the numbers on the machine’s digital read-out screen.

“One-twenty-six over 80,” Dennis Mitchell, Mack’s barber, announces, although his 19-year-old client is briefly uncertain what to make of the reading.

“That’s pretty good,” Mitchell explains. Smiles all around.

The news makes perfect sense to Mack: “I don’t really eat fast food,” he says, to Mitchell’s approval.

The machines arrived at the Denny Moe’s Superstar Barbershop in New York’s historic African-American neighborhood of Harlem in May, making it only one of the latest examples of barbers and beauty salons in predominantly black or immigrant neighborhoods doubling up as dispensaries of informal health advice alongside more usual perms and trims.

Read more from Reuters.

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