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Clipper Clinics bring screening tests into neighborhoods plagued with high disease rates

Kola Okuyemi, M.D., M.P.H. (right), leads an effort to bring a mobile clinic into barbershops and beauty salons. (Photo: Emily Jensen)

Considering that barbershops enjoy a colorful chapter in the history of medicine—barbers routinely performed surgical procedures until the late 1700s—it’s fitting that a new project designed to address health disparities in the African American community has gone back into the barbershop.

Clipper Clinics, a preventive health care program run by the Masonic Cancer Center’s Kola Okuyemi, M.D., M.P.H., is designed to get to the heart of the problem.

“In that community,” explains Okuyemi, “we see higher rates of diabetes, HIV, and heart disease. So this is a program that will allow uninsured people in the inner city to engage in basic preventive medicine.”

Okuyemi, director of the Medical School’s Program in Health Disparities Research, worked with UCare and Southside Health Services to put together a mobile clinic that sets up in neighborhood barbershops or beauty salons and offers free blood pressure, cholesterol, glucose, and HIV screenings.

“We see a lot of abnormal readings in people who didn’t know they had a problem,” says Okuyemi. “Our goal is not to become their doctor, but to identify the problem and refer them to a clinic for follow-up.”

With one clinic scheduled each month, the team will be at various spots around the Twin Cities— “anywhere people want us,” Okuyemi says.

For a calendar of upcoming clinics, visit www.healthdisparities.umn.edu/clipperclinic.

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