Earlier this year, when Pastor Sean Dogan, director of community health, was asked what was next for our Greenville market’s innovative Beauty and Barbershop Talks (BBT) program, he was very clear.
“I want more participation, and I want it to bleed over into other communities of color,” he shared at the time. “I’d love to add Latino barbers and beauticians to the program.”
And today, that mission has been accomplished.
Pastor Dogan helped to spearhead the BBT program when it launched in 2022 as a partnership between Bon Secours St. Francis in Greenville and the American Heart Association. The program was originally conceived as a way of utilizing barbers and beauticians, and the important role they play in the Black community, as extended members of the health care team for Greenville’s Black residents. Barbers and beauticians who participate with the program were provided blood pressure cuffs and training on how to use them, as well as given information and resources so that conversations in the shop could lead to an individual finding the help they need.
Now those conversations and connections to resources are occurring in Greenville’s Hispanic and Latino communities. Three shops and salons that comprise 10 barbers and beauticians having recently joined the BBT program.
“The BBT program originated to address the health disparities faced by the Black community, and so it’s a natural extension to address the disparities faced by Latinos and Hispanics as well,” Milena Barroso, a health navigator in Greenville’s Healthy Outcomes Program, shares. Milena’s role with BBT is to recruit shops, beauticians and barbers that cater to the Latino and Hispanic communities.
“The importance of expanding the program with the Hispanic and Latino community is to create awareness,” Milena explains. “It’s a community whose members are at risk for high blood pressure and perhaps don’t know it. It is important to me, as a member of this community, to educate my Latino community that blood pressure is serious, and we need to address it. We also want to empower them so that they have a better, healthier lifestyle.”
The health risks and the health disparities faced by Greenville’s underserved communities make accurate health information and access to care vital. The BBT program utilizes its partner beauticians and barbers to provide this potentially life-saving information during conversations in their shops. Milena adds that the role of these shops to her community is similar to their place in Black communities.
“It is a gathering place for the Hispanic community also,” she shares. “They have a trusting relationship with their barbers and beauticians, and they can discuss any topic with them including health issues. So, our barbers and beauticians can save their clients’ lives.”
With hypertension more prevalent in Hispanic people than in the general population, it makes the training and cuffs provided to our partners on taking their clients’ blood pressures even more important. Other health risks for Latino and Hispanic communities include higher rates of both cancer and diabetes, so the access to resources and overcoming barriers can be key to positive outcomes.
“Some of the barriers in our Latino community to accessing health care include language, financial stability and health insurance,” Milena explains. “Some Latinos fear going into debt. And sometimes they do not go to the doctor because of their immigration status. Sometimes transportation can be an issue.”
By partnering with the trusted barbers and beauticians in the Hispanic and Latino communities, our ministry is using our BBT program to overcome these obstacles so that those Greenville residents in need receive the care and services needed.
If you’re a barber or beautician looking to impact change and increase healthy outcomes in either the Hispanic, Latino or Black communities, call 864-241-5116 to find out how you can join the program.
Also, learn more about the heart and vascular care services we provide at Bon Secours.