Benefactors step in to fund breast health tests

2011-01-25T02:00:00Z Benefactors step in to fund breast health testsDeirdre Cox Baker The Quad-City Times
January 25, 2011 2:00 am  • 

Women who need a breast health test should not allow money to stand in the way, Quad-City health advocates say.

A temporary suspension of the Voucher Program of the Quad-Cities — funded largely by the area Susan G. Komen for the Cure affiliate — has caused concern that some women may not seek out the tests because they are afraid they cannot afford them. The suspension continues until April 1.

But funds are available to help in the meantime, supplied by federal, state and local sources that include the Genesis Health Services Foundation and the Trinity Health Foundation.

Medicare coverage — for women older than 65 years — includes mammograms as of Jan. 1. The Affordable Care Act includes new provisions that cover routine screenings, including mammograms and colon testing, according to Dr. Donald Berwick, administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, who is cited on the website www.healthcare.gov.

Trinity Health Foundation funds support testing at both its Moline and Bettendorf hospital campuses. Those efforts have been supplemented by a recent $20,000 grant from the foundation’s Stylin’ Against Breast Cancer event.

“Trinity has seen the economy’s impact on people not being able to afford their care, which in turn causes them to forgo treatment,” foundation president Berlinda Tyler-Jamison said. “This grant helps ensure that women in need can focus on their health, not on how to pay for it.”

Genesis Health Services Foundation funds are for testing at sites in Davenport and Bettendorf as well as DeWitt, Iowa, and Silvis, Ill.

Questions about the test often come up first in a physician’s office when a patient indicates that a mammogram is not affordable, said Sally Werner, the director of the Genesis Cancer Care Institute.

That’s when the foundation-backed funding is arranged, with a special effort made to match a patient’s personal needs to the proper program.

A majority of female patients will receive a coupon, Werner said, which pays for a typical screening mammogram. Those with a prior history of breast cancer or with a high-risk background need more diagnostic testing.

A couple of women have used the coupons in the past month or so, she said.

At the Trinity locations, women are advised to speak up, said Sherri Morlok, the lead technologist for imaging services with Trinity Regional Health System.

“If a woman wants help, she needs to articulate that,” Morlok added. The information is then passed on to a technologist or clerk at a Trinity facility.

When a woman goes to Trinity for an exam, she will be treated like any other patient, Morlok said. The patient will never see a bill once the clerk knows to bill  Trinity Health Foundation for the tests.

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