Your Dollars, Making an Impact: OhioHealth’s Imaging Outreach, Screening & Diagnostics

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 few weeks, we will feature our grantees so you can see and read how your dollars are making an impact.

Guest Writer: Rebecca Hudson

You didn’t see it coming. You didn’t expect it to last so long. But, here you are – unemployed for two years, no health insurance and anxious about how to use your limited finances. The choices: keeping a roof over your head, food on the table and lights on – versus what you know is important – preventive health care, including your annual mammogram.

Determined to find a health care resource designed for someone in your financial situation, you found the OhioHealth’s Imaging Outreach: Screening and Diagnostics program on the Komen Columbus website.

In partnership with Komen Columbus, the one-of-a-kind, multi-layered program provides free breast cancer screening, mammograms and follow-up procedures when results indicate a positive diagnosis. Every woman in the program is also provided with breast health education.

The program is available to a diverse audience, with a special emphasis on the under or uninsured. Procedures are performed at OhioHealth facilities in six geographic areas and at their state-of-the-art mobile facility.

In its second year of funding, every dollar Komen grants to this program goes directly for services, not administrative costs. For the 2012-2013 funding year, the program is expected to provide cancer screenings and education to an estimated 575 women.

“The majority of these women would not have access to breast health screening and diagnosis without this Komen grant,” said Leslie Steele-Crawford, project director for the Imaging Outreach program.

At the heart of the program, Leslie says, are OhioHealth’s trained breast health nurse “navigators” who guide patients’ through the maze of diagnosis and treatment.

“We treat the person, not just the cancer,” Leslie says.

Leslie is quick to explain that lack of insurance is just one barrier.

“Language, education and transportation are among other obstacles in securing breast health care services. These are all areas that we address.”

One particular patient who benefited from the Komen grant stands out in her mind.

“A recently widowed mother of four was without any form of transportation,” she remembers. “As a result of the Komen-funded Imaging Outreach Program, we provided a ride to her free mammogram, which resulted in an early diagnosis and a healthy outcome.”

She adds, “The funding has also enabled us to cut the timing of our diagnosis to half the national average. We provide patient findings in a matter of days – a major step towards alleviating anxiety.”

It’s personal
Pauline Russ has been an OhioHealth physical therapist for nine years. In 2009, when she was 34 years old and 41/2 months pregnant, she was diagnosed with breast cancer.

“I am a true example that women know their body best,” she explains. “For months, I kept telling my obstetrician my breasts felt different. My sensations were dismissed as a symptom of being pregnant.”

Her suspicions were confirmed when they did an ultrasound following her first trimester. When it was safe, she began four weeks of a chemotherapy that would not affect her unborn child. Labor was induced at 37 weeks, and her healthy 6-pound baby Michael, named after an angel, was born.

Following a double mastectomy and 12 additional weekly chemotherapy treatments, she sought out a career path where she could work directly with breast care patients.  Pauline reached out to Leslie for career advice, which led to her appointment as the Imaging Outreach program project director, a role she has held for the last year.

“Knowing how scared I was for myself and my unborn child when I was diagnosed, I can’t imagine having to deal with the financial pressures of this disease,” said Pauline, “This Komen grant is a beautiful gift to these women.”

To make an appointment for a mammogram, call 614-566-1111.

Read about other Komen Columbus Community Health Grantees here.