Ever wonder how your donation dollars help? Where does the money go and who does it directly help? Komen Columbus has a proud tradition of partnering with many organizations to help men and women who are underserved and uninsured in our 30-county service area. This year alone, we granted nearly $2 million to support 34 programs in Central and Southeastern Ohio communities. This milestone moment would not be possible without the generosity of our sponsors, Race participants and all those people who give to Komen Columbus. For the next weeks, we will feature our grantees so you can see and read how your dollars are making an impact.
Guest Writer: Becca Thomas
Komen Columbus Director of Events & Marketing
In Central and Southeastern Ohio, approximately 15.5% of women between 18-64 years old are uninsured. In addition, of the 750,000 families in our service area, 8.5% are below the poverty level. When the time comes for one of these women to need a mammogram, often many other things come first: a child’s health, a utility bill or food on the table. One of the programs that comes in and helps women in need (thanks to your donations and support) is the BEST program, (Breast Education and Screening Together) from the American Cancer Society.
The BEST Program provides hope and help for the under-served by supporting mammography screening for low income, under or uninsured women, aged 40 to 64. BEST provides free mammograms, and in collaboration with the Columbus area hospitals, follow-up care, for medically under-served women in Central Ohio.
“In addition to covering the cost of mammography, we can also cover some diagnostics and we offer many support programs to provide support for a woman throughout the entire breast cancer process, said Celeste Lauer, Health Initiatives Director, Central Regional for the American Cancer Society. “With Komen donations, underserved women are given access to screening to detect breast cancer in early stages to ensure a high survival rate. With this money, we’re detecting breast cancer earlier and saving lives.”
Low-income women who meet BEST guidelines can receive this important early detection screening through referrals or by calling the American Cancer Society at 1-800-ACS-2345. BEST reimburses the hospital providers an agreed upon amount through contractual agreements. The provider hospitals assume the financial responsibility for diagnosis, treatment, and follow-up care for women who require ultrasounds, breast biopsies and for those women who are diagnosed with breast cancer.
One of the community partners that the BEST programs works with to provide those key screenings is at LifeCare Alliance/Columbus Cancer Clinic and is also funded by Komen Columbus. The program is called “Yes Mamm!” and coordinators work to increase breast health awareness and provide mammography screenings to women in Ohio age 40 or over, and women under the age of 40 with a family history of breast cancer.
The program focuses on serving minority women, uninsured women and under insured women. The program also works on providing transportation to cancer-related medical appointments for individuals battling breast cancer. Cancer-related medicines will be provided to uninsured patients based upon need.
In 2010, of the women who received mammograms from the Columbus Cancer Clinic, 53% reported annual household incomes less than $20,000. The majority of these women cannot afford the $105 cost of a mammogram and many have no health insurance or other resources to cover the life saving screening expenses.
“The Columbus Cancer Clinic provides services regardless of the ability to pay. Due in part to grant money provided by Komen Columbus we reach out to low-income populations to provide services at no cost to the patient,” said Marcie J. Matthews, a Mammographer with the Columbus Cancer Clinic. “We also have a sliding scale fee. Komen funding greatly increases the Columbus Cancer Clinic’s ability to help women overcome financial, social, and cultural barriers to receiving breast health and survivorship care.”
In 2012, the Yes Mamm! program aims to provide 1,800 women with mammograms and 60 with clinical breast exams and are currently on track to meet those goals.