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At least two Old Brooklyn barbershops offering fentanyl testing strips

Posted at 10:51 PM, Jun 25, 2019
and last updated 2019-06-26 10:57:27-04

OLD BROOKLYN, Ohio — It's a cause dear to his heart.

"It's important to me because my community is dying," said Waverly Willis.

Waverly Willis owns both Urban Kutz Barbershop locations and a salon, but not too long ago he was homeless and addicted to drugs.

"I probably would not be here if fentanyl was around when I was walking these streets, getting high," he said.

When Willis learned about the dangerous rate at which people are dying due to fentanyl-laced drugs, he took action and put out testing strips in his businesses that detect the potentially deadly substance.

"Pour water on the strip, inside of the packet and then within seconds you'll know if its laced with fentanyl or not," said Willis.

The The Alcohol, Drug Addiction and Mental Health Services Board of Cuyahoga County is facilitating the grassroots distribution, and Cuyahoga County provided $15,000 in funding to purchase those strips, according to Beth Zietlow-DeJesus, the director of external affairs for the ADAMHS Board of Cuyahoga County.

Just last month the Cuyahoga County Medical Examiner issued a public health alert when 18 people died of overdoses in just nine days, likely from fentanyl.

Other barbershops in Old Brooklyn have already gotten on board.

Marlon Brown, the owner of LegoHeadz Barber Saloon, says he keeps his testing strips in the bathroom so his customers aren't intimidated.

"You can grab you one, put it in your pocket, come back out like nothing ever happened," said Brown.

Brown says although he knows some folks won't agree with the program, he's focused on keeping people alive.

"The goal is to get you to treatment, we can't get you to treatment if you're dying," he said.

Brown also wants to make his barbershop a safe space for everyone.

"I don't want to be just a barbershop in the neighborhood," he said. "I want to be apart of the community so if there's anything going on in the city that we can help, we would like to help."

Zietlow-DeJesus says there are also two fentanyl test strip programs that are ADAMHS Board funded at Circle Health Services and Care Alliance Health Center. In all, 15,000 fentanyl strips will be distributed through grassroot efforts.