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SHAVE, HAIRCUT, HEALTH CHECK

The Willa Carson Health Resource Center brings free preventive care services to gathering spots.

Josephine Adelufosi approached Reginald Maynor as he sat in the barber's chair Thursday afternoon at C&C Hair Design Studio in North Greenwood.

A nurse practitioner, Adelufosi wanted to know the last time Maynor had his blood pressure checked. She stood and listened to his answer as the barber continued running the clippers over Maynor's nearly bald head.

Adelufosi invited Maynor to get his blood pressure checked and listen to general health information at a table set up in C&C's lobby. He agreed.

"This is very convenient in the neighborhood and is an opportunity that a lot of people should take advantage of," Maynor, 49, said after his blood pressure check. "It's free and a lot of people don't have insurance so this is definitely a good thing."

Every Thursday, workers from the Willa Carson Health Resource Center take to North Greenwood barbershops, salons and parks.

They do free blood pressure screenings, pass out literature and talk to people about the importance of healthy living. Patrons are invited to visit the health resource center at 1108 Martin Luther King Jr. Ave.

"If we can't get people to come into the center, we have to come to where the people are," said Annie Tyrell, a registered nurse and the center's executive director. "Blood pressure is a silent killer and many people walking around don't know that they have high blood pressure."

One of the targets for the Healthy Styles Community Outreach Program is black men; that's why they are hitting barbershops, Tyrell said. About 11 percent of the clinic's patients are black men, Tyrell said.

Since starting the outreach program, more than 200 people have been given blood pressure screenings. Ten of those have become clinic patients for issues related to high blood pressure.

Although things are still financially tight for the center, Tyrell hopes to add cholesterol and diabetes testing to the Thursday outings.

Charles Harris, owner of C&C Hair Design Studio, hosts the traveling clinic every other Thursday.

"It really is a good thing," said Harris, 46. "It gets people who may not go to the doctor. And a simple check could really save someone's life. You never know."

The Willa Carson Health Resource Center was founded in 1995 by Willa Carson, a registered nurse, to provide health care to the poor. Carson, who died in 2006 at age 80, started the clinic by giving free blood pressure screenings and treating common colds out of two apartments in North Greenwood.

The nonprofit clinic now provides an array of free medical services, including care by a dermatologist, pediatric care and acupuncture. All provided services are free.

In 2008 and 2009, about 3,000 patients were seen at the clinic each year. About 400 patients a month are now being seen.

Angela Morris is one of those patients. But Thursday she dropped by C&C to get her blood pressure checked.

"I'm a diabetic and she (Adelufosi) keeps me in line," Morris, 49, said with a chuckle. "A lot of people have illnesses and problems and will not go to the doctor.

"Sometimes, you have to step out to them. But a lot of people wait until it's too late when they really don't have to."

Demorris A. Lee can be reached at dalee@sptimes.com or (727) 445-4174.

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Willa Carson Health Resource Center

Where: 1108 Martin Luther King Jr. Ave., Clearwater.

Hours: 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. Tuesday and Wednesday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Thursday, 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Friday.

Cost: All services are free.

For appointments: Call (727) 467-9411.

For information: Visit www.carsonhrc.org.

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