Breast cancer care reaching more uninsured in Kaufman area

Recipients of the Susan G. Komen Greater Central and East Texas grant funding have been able to expand their free breast screenings, including to individuals who are uninsured or underinsured.

As the recently formed Susan G. Komen Greater Center and East Texas (CETX) prepares to release its request for applications for its next round of grants, the results from the current grant year are becoming evident. And many of these new benefits are available to Kaufman County residents.

Back in January, Komen Austin merged with Komen East Central Texas and expanded into 58 counties to become Komen Greater Central and East Texas. This expansion provided an opportunity to recommit resources to critical breast health services around the area; Komen Greater CETX provided more than $60,000 in mid-year funding to all four of its existing community grantees outside the Austin area: Bridge Breast Network, Cherokee County Department of Health, Moncrief Cancer Institute and Northeast Texas Public Health District.

The goal of these mid-year grants is to ensure that these four institutions are able to continue to provide services at existing levels until the next grant cycle opens.

“One of the primary reasons we wanted to expand our area was so we could make even more affordable breast health services available in rural Texas, and this is just the first step toward that goal,” Executive Director of Komen Greater CETX Suzanne Stone said. 

One of these grantees, the Dallas-based Bridge Breast Network (BBN), promotes mammography and provides patient navigation and access for medically underserved people in Ellis and Kaufman counties. The organization’s impact is felt one patient and one family at a time. For example, last year a woman was referred to BBN because she had discovered a lump in her breast but had no insurance or financial resources to cover the cost of a mammogram. Using grant funding from Komen Greater CETX, BBN gave her free breast health education, an evaluation, and diagnostic services. After she was diagnosed with breast cancer through BBN, she and her family came into the BBN office where they participated in a Breast Cancer Information and Education session. She was then referred to a breast surgeon for treatment.

The Cherokee County Department of Health provides mammography to residents of Anderson, Cherokee, Ellis, Henderson, Kaufman, Rusk, Smith, and Wood counties who either cannot afford or cannot easily reach a screening center. The Department used some of its Komen funding to send a mobile mammography unit to the most rural areas of those counties. Because Komen does not require a lengthy application process to prove need, Cherokee County’s health department is able to efficiently provide annual mammograms to those who need them.

Moncrief Cancer Institute uses its Komen funding to send its nationally certified mobile mammography unit to Bell, Bosque, Ellis, Henderson, Hill, Kaufman, McLennan, Navarro, and Van Zandt counties. The unit provides not only screenings but also patient navigation services to the underserved women and men in this area.

With its sizable Komen grant, Northeast Texas Public Health District performs about 750 mammograms each year for low-income, uninsured, and underinsured in Cherokee, Henderson, Kaufman, Rusk, Smith, Van Zandt, and Wood counties. NTPHD reports that some of their clients have heard that mammograms hurt and are a waste of time, so being able to provide free screenings outside of a hospital setting has made this lifesaving intervention more accessible.

Komen Greater Central and East Texas encourages community grant proposals from its entire 58-county area in the upcoming grant cycle. The organization will post its next Request for Applications at the end of November. 

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