The Susan G. Komen voucher pilot program closed in the limited communities it was available in November 2023. Komen navigators continue to provide educational, practical, and emotional support to individuals seeking breast cancer screening and diagnostic services. Contact Komen’s free Helpline at 1-877-GO-KOMEN to speak to a trained navigator today.
[00:00:00] Adam Walker: AstraZeneca is leading a revolution in oncology with the ambition to provide cures for cancer in every form following the science to understand cancer in all its complexities to discover, develop, and deliver life changing medicines to patients. Learn more at AstraZeneca-US.com.
From Susan G Komen, this is Real Pink, a podcast exploring real stories, struggles, and triumphs related to breast cancer. We’re taking the conversation from the doctor’s office to your living room.
We need to talk about black breast health. Black women are about 40% more likely to die of breast cancer than white women, diagnosed at younger ages, at later stages, and with more aggressive breast cancers leading to poorer outcomes. This monthly podcast series Stand for H.E.R. Uniting to create a help equity revolution opens a national dialogue that engages community members and organizations, healthcare providers, research scientists, and opinion and policy leaders to discuss recommendations and actionable strategies to advance breast health equity in the black community.
Breast cancer screening can help find breast cancer early when the chances of survival are highest. In this episode, we’re going to learn about Komen’s Screening and Diagnostics Program, which provides no cost breast cancer screening and diagnostic services for people of all ages and genders who meet income guidelines in select cities.
I’m excited to be joined by Jade Gibson, a Patient Navigator at Komen and Morgan Barnes, a Wellness Program Coordinator at the Center for Black Women’s Wellness in Atlanta to learn more about how the Screening and Diagnostics Program works. Welcome to the show. Jade and Morgan!
[00:01:47] Jade Gibson: Thanks for having us, Adam.
[00:01:48] Morgan Barnes: Thank you, Adam, for having us.
[00:01:51] Adam Walker: I’m excited to talk to both of you. It’s such an important topic. I really appreciate your perspective on this. So Jade, we’ll start with you. We recently had you on the podcast to discuss your role as a Patient Navigator and good to have you back.
The Screening and Diagnostics Program is one way that come seeks to remove barriers to healthcare for black patients in cities, where we see the greatest equit. Can you tell us more about the program and why that screening is? So I.
[00:02:20] Jade Gibson: Absolutely, adam. Komen is eliminating barriers and improving access for underserved individuals by providing financial support and connecting them to a trusted Komen healthcare partner in their community for screening and diagnostic services.
Eligible participants receive a voucher that will cover all necessary breast cancer screening and diagnostic services at no cost. And it, the importance behind this is because everybody knows early detection is key. That’s key to decreasing mortality and removing barriers that often leads to later stage diagnosis.
It’s time to normalize doing monthly breast self exams so women recognize what their normal is. Schedule their women’s wellness appointments to ensure they’re receiving their clinical breast exams and most importantly, that they are doing the mammograms as recommended.
[00:03:11] Adam Walker: Perfect, so Morgan, to you next. The Center For Black Women’s Wellness seeks to improve the health and wellbeing of black women and their families in the Atlanta area underserved by quality healthcare services. So can you tell us more about the Center and how you work closely with Komen to serve black patients in the Atlanta area?
[00:03:32] Morgan Barnes: Yes, absolutely. So our center is actually located inside of a recreation center, Dunbar Recreation Center. Because since it’s opening, we’ve always wanted to be a staple in the community so that those who live in that area and the surrounding areas are able to receive access to not only just healthcare services, but quality healthcare services.
So one way that we’re doing that is through our breast health program. We do work closely with Komen in order to make sure that patients that see us that do not have insurance or maybe have not quite yet met their deductible, but they may be having some issues or concerns can they’re able to come in at a low cost.
Our clinic does operate on a sliding scale fee and then our mammograms are offered to our patients for free, at no cost to them once they have already received their breast exam and come to us for whatever concern they have, whether it be their annual screening or they just have a concern.
And one of the things that we noticed especially through the pandemic, was that due to the delay of services, we saw a heavier need for diagnostic mammograms, which is essentially a mammogram that detects whether or not you have a problem versus your annual screening mammogram, which we want to do which we want to have our preventative measures.
So once we noticed that we were able to continue to have this program and also partner with Komen so that we’re able to provide these services to more women who come in and they need that type of care. So.
[00:05:11] Adam Walker: That’s fantastic. Thank you for that work that you’re doing there. It’s just, just fantastic.
So Jade, the Screening and Diagnostics Program is available in Atlanta, Chicago, Fort Worth, Texas Houston, Philadelphia, Virginia Beach, Virginia, Washington DC, and Madison, Wisconsin. Can you tell us how someone living in these areas can apply for a voucher to receive no cost, breast screening and diagnostic services?
[00:05:37] Jade Gibson: I sure can, Adam. The process is very simple and all they need to do is contact the Koman Breast Care Helpline for assistance. Representatives are available Monday through Friday from 9:00 AM to 10:00 PM Eastern and you can reach them at 1-877-GO-KOMEN..
[00:05:56] Adam Walker: So easy 1-877-GO-KOMEN. Okay. So then Morgan, once someone receives a voucher for the program, can you walk us through the patient experience of scheduling an appointment and what they can expect once they arrive at the center?
[00:06:10] Morgan Barnes: Yes, absolutely. So for, let’s say, for example, someone goes to our website or they see on our social media that we are able to offer these services and they need a screening mammogram, they would then contact, they could call the 1 8, 7, 7 go com or they could directly call the center for black women’s wellness.
They will give us a call and say, Hey, you know, I am interested in getting a ma a screening mammogram, or I need to come in to get an exam done because I think I need a mammogram. They would then we would then schedule their appointment for their breast exam, which essentially is the provider just doing a overview screening so that we can make sure that there are no immediate concerns that would cause for a different type of.
For intervention, but they would come in and get their breast exam done. And then from there they would receive their order or referral form that we, then we also collaborate to get these screening mammograms or these mammograms done with Northside hospital in Atlanta. So they would get their voucher for Northside hospital.
And then from there, we work with Komen to get them schedule at Northside so that they’re able to go and get their mammogram done. And the center for black women’s wellness also does provide transportation to women who need a need transportation to their appointment. We usually use. For public transportation, but if they need a ride, we can make sure that we have a lift scheduled to pick them up and take them back home from their appointment at also at no cost to them just in case transportation is a issue as well.
And then that’s it that once they get their mammogram, they’re good to go unless they need, you know, additional services.
[00:07:53] Adam Walker: That sounds incredibly easy, honestly. I mean, you’ve got all the bases covered, right? So there’s no reason not to call and get this help. Right.
[00:08:02] Morgan Barnes: Yes, definitely. And they can even, they can give us a call.
They can send us an email on our website www.cww.org. They can there’s a section that says contact us so they can fill out that information. And then usually some response to them within about 48 hours. Give or take. Usually less time, but depending on what’s going on, we may take up 2 48 hours to respond.
But other than that, they can give us a call or shoot us an email.
[00:08:32] Adam Walker: That’s fantastic. All right. So, so Jade, back to you, nearly 16,000 people contacted the helpline last year, seeking support. Can you share a story that illustrates the impact of the Screening and Diagnostics Program on eliminating barriers to breast care and in the black C.
[00:08:50] Jade Gibson: Yes. What comes to mind is the story of a young woman referred by the center for black women’s wellness at the age of 19. She was uninsured and in conducting her intake, I was afforded the opportunity to speak with her mother to coordinate scheduling on her daughter’s behalf. And it was in that conversation that I learned her mother was in active treatment for breast cancer.
And it was because of that history that the doctor suggested her daughter be screened as well. That particular opportunity also allowed me to share more about what Komen could do for her mother as well. In that exchange, not only was I able to help her daughter get access to screening in a timely manner and make it affordable something she didn’t have to worry about the cost.
I was also able to assist her mother in applying for Komen financial assistance. That program. Would allow her to use those funds to address any financial barriers. She may be experienced with her care. And it’s one of the stories that sticks closest to my heart.
[00:09:50] Adam Walker: Wow. It’s kind of amazing. You’re able to help two generations of women solve their medical needs just from them calling the helpline.
That’s fantastic. Wow. Well, thank you for that amazing work. So, so Morgan, back to you how has come’s partnership with the center supported the community in Atlanta since the Screening and Diagnostics Program was implemented?
[00:10:12] Morgan Barnes: The Komen opportunity has supported us tremendously. As I previously mentioned, one thing that we noticed, especially through the pandemic was that because women I won’t even say women because people a lot of people were delaying.
Getting their basic primary care treatments or primary care visits done during the pandemic. A lot of people did not want to step out of the step out of their homes. Of course, telehealth was becoming more prominent. But people were just, you know, putting off some of their annual screenings and things of that nature.
And so what we noticed was. Due to people putting off those screening specifically their screening mammograms, we started noticing that we were getting more inquiry inquiries. More requests for diagnostic services and diagnostic services are a little bit more expensive and that at one point we did not have as much funding for the specifically for diagnostic services as we did for screening services.
So one thing that Komen definitely has been able to do is allow us. To make sure that not only women are getting their screening mammograms done for their annual visits, but if they do come into the center with a problem then they’re able to get those diagnostic services done as well, without having to worry about the cost because they send, they sometimes tend to cost more.
Sometimes you need multiple visits. And a lot of times, especially at that point many women. Scared. They don’t know what is going on. They could be having a problem that they’re just like they were putting it off. And now it’s something that they know is definitely a concern. So the fact that we’re able to say, okay, cool.
We have these additional funds. Let’s go ahead and get them seen, get them navigated through commen so that they can get their appointment kind of as soon as possible. We work really well. Jade as well as if there’s an urgent need north side schedulers to work with them together to say, okay this patient came in today.
Is there any way they can be seen tomorrow? And we work really closely with them so that they’re able to get those services done. So that has been Just a really great blessing within itself. Being able to just assist more women because the need is there is coming up. The need is there, especially in Atlanta area.
And a lot of people just don’t realize how costly these services are from you needing a screening mammogram to a diagnostic mammogram, to potentially a ultrasound or a biopsy, or without getting too technical, all these different things. Are not just one specific appointment. So they have been definitely angels to come in and assist us with being able to provide these services.
[00:12:53] Adam Walker: That’s right. That’s right. That’s great. That’s great. Well Jade, last question for you. Easy question. Can you remind us one more time of which number of people can call if they need to get to the help?
[00:13:04] Jade Gibson: Sure. It’s 1-877-GO-KOMEN.
[00:13:09] Adam Walker: 1-877-GO-KOMEN. Well, ladies again, thank you so much for the profoundly important work that you’re doing. You’re making such a huge impact on so many lives and so many communities and so many families. And it really is profound and thank you for joining me on the show today.
Join us as we Stand for H.E.R, to drive a health equity revolution, where we’ll create a world without inequities, where black people have the same chances of surviving breast cancer as anyone else to learn more about. Stand for H.E.R. In advancing breast help equity at Susan G. Komen, please visit Komen.org/Stand for H.E.R. That’s Komen.org/Stand for H.E.R..
This episode of the Real Pink Podcast was brought to you by AstraZeneca. AstraZeneca is leading a revolution in oncology with the ambition to provide cures for cancer in every form, following the science to understand cancer in all its complexities to discover, develop, and deliver life changing medicines to patients. Learn more at AstraZeneca-us.com.
Thanks for listening to Real Pink, a weekly podcast by Susan G Komen. For more episodes, visit RealPink.com. For more on breast cancer, visit Komen.org. Make sure to check out at Susan G Komen on social media. I’m your host, Adam, you can find me on Twitter @AJWalker or on my blog, AdamJWalker.com.