Recently, community organizations hosted an event to educate and provide free colorectal cancer screenings for people in the Rome community who are medically underserved, uninsured or underinsured.
Held at the Sandra D. Hudson Villas of the Rome Housing Authority, members of the Northwest Georgia Regional Cancer Coalition (NWGRCC) and AdventHealth Redmond provided convenient and discreet screenings for community members. The NWGRCC provided fit kits for the screenings and the AdventHealth Redmond laboratory processed and provided the results. This was the third year of this initiative, which seeks to offer health care screenings to at risk and underserved populations.
“We want to reach out to our community to ensure everyone is provided the same opportunity for health screenings,” said Terrence Hight, director of outpatient services at AdventHealth Redmond.
Colorectal cancers that are detected early are much more treatable than those detected later. When colon cancer is found early, the 5-year survival rate is about 90 percent compared to a 75 percent rate if detected at later stages. Detecting colorectal cancer early enables more cost-effective treatments, improved survivorship and increased quality of life.
“Collaborating with our health care partners and local housing authorities to provide screening and education events allows us to better engage with low-income families in their own communities, reducing transportation barriers, cost of care concerns and to offer better access to the services and resources they need,” said Erin Hernandez, president and CEO of the NWGRCC.
Offering low and no cost preventative cancer screenings improves access to needed tests and follow-up care and supplies a direct link to health care providers providing treatment. The NWGRCC also utilizes screening coordinators and community health workers to engage and navigate community members through the process, providing culturally appropriate information to increase awareness and understanding of the screening, identifying individual barriers screening completion and follow-up care and facilitating access to services and resources needed to overcome their barriers to care.
Lower rates of cancer screening and recommended follow-up care are linked to poverty and lack of health insurance or underinsurance. According to a report by the Kaiser Family Foundation, 1.4 million Georgians do not have health insurance, and Georgia’s uninsured rate of 13.7 percent is the third highest in the country. The NWGRCC and AdventHealth Redmond hope to continue the work to address health care disparities in Northwest Georgia through future events and initiatives.