Women who receive healthcare from the health centers of Planned Parenthood in Western and Central Massachusetts now have financial assistance available to provide breast cancer diagnostic follow-up procedures when an abnormality is identified.
In August, the Planned Parenthood League of Massachusetts (PPLM) announced its plans to expand its services for breast health.
As part of that, a one-year $20,000 grant distributed by the Planned Parenthood Federation of America locally, will give women access to additional care such as mammograms, biopsies and ultrasounds to help them make early and informed decisions, said Deb Fenton, regional health center director of PPLM for Western and Central Massachusetts.
“The fact is that women often forgo their own healthcare when their family has financial difficulties. There is no need to do that because we do not turn women down due to their inability to pay,” Fenton said. “With grants like this one, we are able to provide more diagnostic care for the women who come to us.”
Part of the treatment Planned Parenthood provides is a “well woman” exam conducted by the organization’s doctors and nurses, which can include a breast exam, cervical cancer screening and a mammogram referral.
When screening tests indicate an abnormality, Planned Parenthood refers the patient to one of its partner organizations, including the Baystate Health Comprehensive Breast Center, for follow-up care. The well woman exam is funded by the state Department of Public Health (DPH), which means no cost to the patient, but Fenton said that referral is not necessarily covered by DPH funds.
“This grant would enable us to make sure that if she’s got concerns, we can say we’ve got funding to help make sure you continue your care,” she said.
Recently, Fenton heard from a Planned Parenthood clinician about a woman who was referred for follow-up breast cancer care but voiced concern she could not afford to do that. That is exactly the type of person the grant can assist, she said.
The local Planned Parenthood will distribute the grant money on a case-by-case basis as the costs for the breast cancer follow-up procedures vary, Fenton said. Last year, PPLM provided breast cancer screening at 9,433 well-woman exams. Nationwide, Planned Parenthood health centers provide breast cancer screening for nearly 750,000 women each year.
The local Planned Parenthood is able to get a woman in to see medical staff for a well woman exam with one to two days, said Fenton, who noted the offices are open Tuesday and Thursday evenings to make it convenient for women who work during the day.
With the requirement that all Massachusetts residents carry some type of health insurance, Fenton said they are luckier than many states that don’t have that kind of mandate so that residents are able to contribute to their healthcare needs.
“At least we have a safety cushion for now,” she said. “This will help us gauge what we want to do in the future to secure additional funds to provide similar kinds of services.”
For more information, visit www.pplm.org.
November 09, 2012
January 27, 2016