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Avon Calls for Cancer Screening

October 12, 2006

Melanie Cross

The Avon Foundation recently awarded the Tulane Cancer Center a $250,000 grant to provide access to breast and cervical cancer screening and follow-up care for uninsured and underserved women in New Orleans.


A new grant will support the work of a physician at community-based healthcare clinics in New Orleans, including the Tulane University Community Health Center at Covenant House. (Photos by Nick Marinello)

Tulane's grant will support a cancer control fellow, a physician who will work out of several community-based healthcare clinics in the New Orleans area, including the Tulane University Community Health Center at Covenant House.

Pap smears are currently available at the health center, and referrals are provided for mammograms at partner organizations.

"The health center has hosted over 8,000 patient visits to date while serving a large underserved and uninsured population looking for a medical home after the hurricane," says medical director Eboni Price.

The cancer control fellow will assist in providing clinical services to women at risk for receiving inadequate health care due to the void created by the aftermath of Katrina and the closure of the Medical Center of Louisiana at New Orleans. The fellow also will promote screening for both breast and cervical cancer through direct patient care as well as supervision of resident physicians' training in cancer control.

The fellow will concentrate on breast and cervical cancer because screening is well-defined and can be very effective, leading to early diagnosis and better outcomes.

101206_health2_1"Right now, only about 20 percent of eligible women who are dependent on community clinics for their care are being screened for breast and cervical cancer in conformity with accepted guidelines," says Tim Pearman, director of Tulane's Patricia Trost Friedler Center for Psychosocial Oncology and principal investigator on the grant.

"We're hoping, with the support of this Avon Foundation grant, to increase that number to 50 percent or higher within a year of hiring the cancer control fellow."

The grant also will support a patient navigator/counselor and a social work intern who will provide much-needed guidance to underserved patients as they attempt to navigate New Orleans' fragmented post-Katrina healthcare system.

The navigator will primarily function as a liaison between the cancer control fellow, the patient and the healthcare system, insuring that the patient complies with screening and/or treatment recommendations in a timely manner.

The patient navigator also will be a centralized resource for community agency referrals and will arrange assistance with transportation, obtaining medications and applying for insurance. Additionally, the navigator will provide psychosocial counseling and appropriate referral.

The Avon Foundation was established in 1955 and over the last 50 years has awarded more than $450 million to women's empowerment and health programs. The funds awarded to the Tulane Cancer Center are part of the foundation's "Supporting the Safety Net" initiative that provides gifts of financial support to public, private and "safety net" hospitals and healthcare centers that deliver health care to low-income, at-risk and uninsured individuals.

Melanie N. Cross is the public relations and marketing coordinator for the Tulane Cancer Center.

Tulane University, New Orleans, LA 70118 504-865-5000