Omar Saleh is once again able to give back.
The owner of Omer’s Barbershop is now allowed to give free haircuts to the extended care patients at the William J. Cadzow-Lac La Biche Healthcare Centre since COVID-19 restrictions are loosening.
“It’s exciting that I get to go back to the hospital again, especially since it has been about three months since I’ve been able to cut their hair. A few of them are looking pretty shaggy,” said Saleh.
Saleh has been cutting the extended care patients’ hair roughly once a month for the past three years, and estimates that in total he has cut between 40-50 patients hair.
This was all put to an end when the pandemic forced extended care units to go into lock down just a few months ago.
Now that he is able to cut patients hair again, with new regulations to follow, Saleh understands the importance of a hospital visit, even if it’s just for a quick haircut.
“They are pretty vulnerable there, they can’t visit with their families as much because they aren’t letting as many people into the hospital,” said Saleh.
“So when they get a haircut it goes a long way, it makes people pretty happy, and I enjoy giving back.”
To help limit the potential spread of COVID-19, Saleh has to make sure to wear gloves and a mask, disinfect his work station constantly, all while having to work outside.
Cutting hair outside has brought on its own set of challenges.
“This has been my first time cutting hair outside,” said Saleh.
“It’s hard when I’m doing a haircut outside because of the wind. I had to get the patients daughter to hold a bag and try to catch the hair as I was cutting it. It was a mission for sure.”
Not only was Saleh not able to cut patients’ hair at the hospital, he was also not able to cut anyone’s hair for two months because his barbershop was forced to close due to the corona virus.
This put some financial strain on Saleh because he had just gotten back from his honeymoon in February right before he had to close his shop.
“I got married, then I went on my honeymoon, so it’s the most expensive year of my life and then I had to close my barbershop,” said Saleh.
“It definitely humbles you for sure to go through something like this.”
Luckily, when Saleh was able to open up again, everyone was lining up to get a haircut.
“The first month we were open was crazy,” said Saleh.
“We would be working from 7:30 in the morning to 10 at night. So it was good to finally get back in the shop, cut hair again, and to have us be that busy was amazing.”
Since reopening, Saleh is back to his same old routine, almost.
“We’re only allowed four people in the shop, five if you’re including myself.” said Saleh.
“Other than that, it’s kind of back to normal now. I still have to wear a mask and I still have to be cautious of course.”