LOS ANGELES — When you take a seat in Corey Thomas’ barber chair at The Original Ice Fade City Barbershop, it’s likely you’re in for more than just a shape up. You may be in for a hypertension screening as well.
“In our community we usually don’t go to the doctor a lot," Thomas said. "Oftentimes when something is bothering [my clients], they talk to me about it before they talk to a doctor.”
In his 19 years as a barber, Thomas has noticed most of the men walking into the shop tend to put their health on the back burner, unfortunately, until it’s too late.
His own wakeup call was when he suffered a stroke in the shop where he works. “I thought I was pretty healthy, but of course I wasn’t,” he said.
It was after that stroke when Thomas found out he had high blood pressure.
Data shows that one in two Black Americans are diagnosed with some form of heart disease. Which is why Thomas helps his clients check their blood pressure and has introduced them to a new app, Live Chair Health.
Andrew Suggs developed the app and his goal is to reduce health disparities in Black and brown communities.
“I think because of historical things that have taken place in our country, a lot of people that look like us don't actually engage with the health care system," Suggs said. "One of the things that Live Chair Health is aiming to do is get people engaged in their health care.”
Providence Health invested in helping Live Chair Health partner with local barbershops, salons and churches; places where trusting community relationships are built.
Users sign onto the app by filling out a health questionnaire, then they are able to keep track of their blood pressure and cholesterol levels, and connect with primary care providers within miles of their location.
After signing up and booking doctor’s appointments, users are rewarded with discounts towards services with local hairstylists and barbers.