Detroit Barber Helps Sign Residents Up for Health Care

Content brought to you by Detroit Medical Center

erkley Knott has two jobs. One is the owner and operator of Berkley's Exclusive Hair Care in downtown Detroit. The other is as a telemetry clerk at DMC (Detroit Medical Center) Sinai Grace Hospital. They seem vastly different vocations, but Knott says they share nuanced similarities.

"They both deal with the caring of people," says Knott, remembering the
"therapeutic" talks at his childhood barbershop. "Plenty of conversation all the time about different things. It makes your day."

In his more than two decades as a barber, Berkley's list of clientele has included rapper Kurtis Blow, members of R&B group New Edition, talk show host Tavis Smiley and Judge Damon Keith. Along with the other employees of downtown Detroit, he has been the regular barber for DMC Chief Administrative Officer Conrad L. Mallett Jr. for 12 years.

Dividing his time between the barbershop and working in the cardiovascular institute wing of Sinai Grace, Knott says both jobs require him to be in tune with his patron or patient's health.


"After knowing them for so long, you know when something is wrong," says Knott. "I immediately change what I would have said, and I get into their vibe. And when they leave my chair, I am hoping that they leave with a smile or feeling a little bit better. They will say something to me to the effect of 'thanks for that' … and my day is done."

When he goes to the hospital from the barbershop in the same day, Knott says monitoring people's heartbeats is definitely a change of pace. "At certain times of the day at the barbershop, you will see me making my moves to make my transition, because now I have to go to the hospital and deal with people that are ill. It's a serious thing," he says.

But the sense of fulfillment is the same.

"I am working with a patient three or four days, maybe a week. And they stand up and they leave out of that hospital and I know I monitored them; that makes me happy," Knott says.

And Knott says he takes every chance he can get to combine his two careers.

"I keep my ear open as far as what's going on in the hospital," says Knott, frequently using his salon to raise money for local causes, like the American Heart Association's annual Heart Walk. Soon his salon, along with others he is working with, will be able to sign people up for health care.

"I love what DMC is doing with this Healthy You, Healthy Community campaign as far as going out in the community," he says, explaining it is the hair care industry's opportunity to offer more than just therapeutic conversation about life's ills. It's a chance to make a true difference in the person's overall health and well-being.

"That's my drive … to know that I am there to help them," he explains. "Now I can say, 'Do you have health care?'"

 And if they don't, he knows exactly how to help them get it.

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