Jason Boatright said that none of his customers wanted to go to the doctor, so he got health services to come to them at the barbershop.
A Barbershop in Madison is now offering health and wellness checks for free to their customers. They have also been providing the Coronavirus vaccine to keep members of the community safe during the pandemic. Jason Boatright, the owner of B. Right Barbershop, is on a mission to improve access to healthcare for its customers who predominantly hail from the Black community. B. Right Barbershop recently partnered with the Men’s Health and Wellness Clinic to conduct health and wellness checks at the barbershop. "I was inspired to do it because I deal with a lot of Black men. I cut anywhere between 70-100 Black men a week, so I figured connecting their health to them would be the best route," said Boatright, reported Good Morning America.
He listened to customer's stories of them having pains in different parts of their body, and various ailments. "None of them wanted to go to a doctor, and I hear that probably 20-30 times a week," said Boatright. That's when he decided to do something about it, and also made it free so that the health services and checkups were accessible. Nurses from the Men’s Health and Wellness Clinic conduct blood pressure checks, flu shots, mental health therapy among other healthcare services at the barbershop.
“Men, especially Black men, think they are invincible,” said Boatright, reported HNG News. “They won’t go to the doctor, but I tell them we are not superheroes. This clinic is important. This could save their lives.” Jason Boatright knows the community well and is aware he can do a lot of good by helping them get their regular checkups. “The barbershop is connected to a lot of people. So, you deal with a lot of people on a daily basis, old and young,” said Boatright, reported NBC 15. The vaccination drive at the barbershop has become a crucial cog for the health department, especially considering the low vaccination rates among the Black population. According to the Wisconsin Department of Health Services, the Black population comes in last when it comes to vaccination rates, with only roughly 25% receiving at least one dose of the vaccine.
He's also hoping to create a space where people can be themselves and connect as a community. “Everyone is welcome here,” said Boatright. “With all the division going on in the world now. I want people to feel comfortable here in their own skin. We need more places like that.” It's not the first time he has held events at the barbershop. He hosted an appreciation day for fathers with music, food, and card games on Father's Day.
FEEL GOOD FRIDAY: The B. Right Barbershop provides mental health services, blood pressure checks, vaccinations and more.— ABC News Live (@ABCNewsLive) June 18, 2021
Jason Boatright, barbershop owner, joins @dianermacedo to share what inspired him to do this.https://t.co/89rGo4QEuG pic.twitter.com/1GsaaX2Uzt
The Rebalanced-Life Wellness Association, a Madison non-profit working to combat health disparities in the Black community is opening a permanent and free health center located in Boatright’s shop but also partnering with other barbershops in Madison. “We started looking at the social determinants of health, and we realized something needed to change," said Aaron Perry, the organization’s founder. "So, I started looking at the barbershops as a place to open up a free health center and we made it happen,” he added.
“Let's start being a role model to our little kids, and having those fathers be a part of that so when the kids grow up, they are already accustomed to getting healthcare and going to the doctor,” said Perry. Boatright believes barbers have a responsibility to keep their clients safe. “Hair keeps growing, so if you are a barbershop owner or hair salon owner, you should be doing your due justice to keep your clients healthy,” said Boatright. “I don't want to have a chain where it’s just looking for the revenue,” said Boatright. “I want to be able to make a change in each community that I’m in.”