Women with health insurance often take for granted their ability to have an annual screening mammogram. Some even choose not to get one. But for those who are uninsured or underinsured, the choice is often made for them. Thanks to grant money from Komen St. Louis, Mercy Hospital St. Louis is able to provide mammograms and diagnostic services to women who couldn’t otherwise afford it.
Carol Murphy, licensed clinical social worker and manager of Cancer Support Services at Mercy Hospital St. Louis, understands the important role Komen plays for women’s breast health in our community: “Komen allows us to reach the underserved. It’s a lifeline for many women.”
The Breast Cancer Screening and Education Program is projected to provide approximately 1,100 breast exams and mammograms to uninsured or underinsured low-income women during this grant year. The program collaborates with area health and social service agencies, Mercy Neighborhood Ministry and Mercy Hospital Washington. These agencies work to identify and reach out to low-income women in need of routine breast screening services. The goal is to increase access to breast screening services, education, prevention and early detection of breast cancer. Every screening includes a breast exam, mammogram and breast health education. The breast health navigator follows up with every woman who requires additional diagnostic services and maintains close contact with each woman to help her navigate the complex health care system.
This is the 10th year of Komen St. Louis funding for this program. The number of women Mercy Hospital St. Louis serves through the Komen St. Louis grant increases each year. The digital mobile mammography van travels to reach the underserved, and those without insurance can contact the Mercy Cancer Answer line to arrange a free mammogram in one of several locations. Last year, through Komen St. Louis funding, Mercy provided 1,000 mammograms to uninsured women, with 18 of those screening positive for breast cancer.
“If we didn’t have the grant, many of these women would not otherwise be receiving mammograms,” says Murphy.
In 2012, Komen St. Louis granted nearly $3.1 million to 25 local breast health programs in our 17-county Missouri/Illinois service area, including the Breast Cancer Screening and Education Program at Mercy Hospital St. Louis. These grants help fund breast health and breast cancer screening, treatment, education and support services for those in our community who otherwise may not have access due to low income, lack of insurance or other barriers.