Barbershop works with Cleveland Clinic to offer blood pressure screenings

CLEVELAND-- An area barbershop is starting an innovative program that pairs a haircut with a screening for high blood pressure.

Waverly Willis, owner of Cleveland's Urban Kutz Barbershop, said over the yers, he was troubled when some of his customers would vanish, never to been seen again.

"And I would ask 'You know what happened to Joe?' And they would tell me, 'Well, he was a diabetic and he would never take his medication, or 'He had high blood pressure and he would never take his medication,'" Willis said.

He had a life-altering moment when he attended the Cleveland Clinic's Minority Men's Health Fair in 2014 and a free test revealed a much larger problem.

"That Monday, I was back at Cleveland Clinic getting more extensive testing done on it. And that evening they actually called me and told me that I had a large mass in my right kidney, and they were both going to have to be removed," Willis said.

That health scare prompted Willis to work with Dr. Charles Modlin, director of the clinic's minority men's health center, to provide screenings for barbershop customers to detect high blood pressure, known as the silent killer.

"Untreated high blood pressure can lead to stroke, heart attacks, heart failure, kidney disease, peripheral vascular disease," Modlin said.

The Cleveland Clinic's Minority Men's Health Fair is April 19 from 5:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m.