Free cancer screenings and cancer prevention education during first See, Test & Treat event in Indianapolis
This month, 48 women from around central Indiana received free health services with the help of the Indiana University National Center of Excellence in Women’s Health (NCoE). The center hosted the See, Test & Treat at the Gennesaret Free Clinic location on Keystone Avenue near East New York Street. Women who came there received a variety of health services, including cervical screenings, breast exams and mammograms.
“We wanted to do this program because we know there is a huge need for women to have preventative screenings,” said Theresa Rohr-Kirchgraber, MD, FACP, who is the executive director of NCoE. “We don’t want another woman to die from cervical cancer or breast cancer. We know the state of Indiana gets a grade of “D” from the National Women’s Law Center for our health services for women’s health. We can’t afford that, so we want to make sure we can do everything we possibly can to help women get the screening tests they need.”
Artressa Avant, who lives on the southwest side of Indianapolis, heard about the free services from a friend. She got a pelvic exam and mammogram on the first day of the event.
“My experience was great,” said Avant. “Everybody was really friendly and it moved quickly as well. Right now, I’m not working, so it’s important to be able to come and know that I’m doing well.”
Avant last saw a doctor a little more than a year ago, but since she doesn’t have insurance now, she says this was a huge help. She also appreciated how she was able to receive her results before she left the clinic.
“It’s amazing because I wasn’t expecting same-day results,” said Avant. “I looked at my own paperwork and now I know what I need to work on. It was really great just knowing I’m okay and everything is fine. It’s just peace of mind.”
Students from Indiana University School of Medicine helped by checking patients’ height, weight, BMI and blood pressure, while also doing HIV screenings and giving them a diabetes test. There was also gonorrhea and chlamydia testing for women ages 21-25, and those over the age of 30 were tested for HPV.
This event was a partnership with DCL Pathology, Inc. and St. Vincent’s Hospital mobile mammography unit. Even though this was the first time the See, Test & Treat event happened in Indianapolis, NCoE already partners with the Gennesaret Free Clinic to do free screenings twice a month. Rohr-Kirchgraber says they’re providing a critical service.
“We saw a patient, she came in for the pap [test] and pelvic [exam], but she also had a significant skin lesion,” said Rohr-Kirchgraber. “It turns out she had a skin cancer. Even though we’re doing one thing, there are a lot of other things we do at the same time and then try to help people get in to services. What we want folks to know is they don’t have to worry. We’re not checking their immigration status. We’re not checking what their financial income is. We just don’t do any of that. We just want you to get taken care of and we’ve found ways to be able to do that.”
This highly collaborative, volunteer-driven event also gave women the chance to meet individually with a licensed health coach, who helped them make and set healthy lifestyle goals that can reduce their risk of getting cancer. Furthermore, patients met with pathologists and pathology residents who helped them understand what happens to a woman’s body and cells if they get cancer.
The See, Test & Treat event was made possible through a grant from the College of American Pathologists Foundation (CAP Foundation), as well as support from Central Indiana Community Foundation and Roche, Inc. This is one of sixteen See, Test & Treat programs funded across the nation by the CAP Foundation, which provides competitive grant funding and program support to pathologists who want to bring See, Test & Treat to their community. Maryrose Murphy, MS, MBA, who is the executive director of the CAP Foundation says they focus on populations with high need, so they hope to bring the program to Indianapolis again in the future.
The views expressed in this content represent the perspective and opinions of the author and may or may not represent the position of Indiana University School of Medicine.