MaFlo’s Hairstyles & Designs: Finding Health Information in a Hair Salon

The sign in front of MaFlo’s Beauty Salon reads: MaFlo’s Hairstyles & Designs by Marilynn—Health Awareness Team. Inside are three chairs for hair drying, two for styling, and portraits of clients lining the walls. A waiting area offers several comfortable chairs, three computers, and a printer. On a typical day, the beauty chairs are filled and several people can be found at the computers. They are reading health information on MedlinePlus, the consumer health website of the National Library of Medicine (www.medlineplus.gov).

“People sit around talking at a hair salon,” says the salon’s owner, Marilynn Lance-Robb. “They’ll tell me they’ve been diagnosed with something, maybe diabetes. And we’ll look it up.” Finding health information in a hair salon may seem an odd combination, but it makes perfect sense to Lance-Robb. She teaches health and computer classes at the local library on her days off.

Her computers are part of an innovative program to bring health information to underserved people. Funding comes from the National Network of Libraries of Medicine (NN/LM), Southeastern/Atlantic Region (SE/A). The National Library of Medicine coordinates the network, which provides access to health information for healthcare providers and the public, wherever they may live or work.

“We try to go where the people are,” says Nancy Patterson, SE/A Community Outreach Coordinator. “It’s great if they can get to a library or computer center. Some do. But we also go to their places of worship, public and senior housing, neighborhood centers, and in Marilynn’s case, a beauty salon.”

Population of focus: Adults in Georgetown, South Carolina

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Organization: National Network of Libraries of Medicine (NN/LM), Southeastern/Atlantic Region (SE/A)