Bartow Health Access, a new, full-service health provider, is offering free breast screenings to women age 35 and older that are currently uninsured or enrolled in Medicaid or Medicare. The Breast Health Navigation program, which started Sept. 30 and runs through Nov. 14, allows eligible women to contact BHA to schedule an appointment for a clinical breast exam. After the exam, patients will consult with the on-site physician to determine the need for a mammogram. If deemed necessary, clients will receive a voucher for a free mammogram at the Hope Center in Cartersville.
Roberta Green, executive director of BHA, said, “We have 42,000 people in Bartow County who are uninsured or underinsured and 65 percent of them are women. It is very near and dear to my heart and the hearts of our staff to tell women who think they have no access to health care that we are here. People often neglect their health if they don’t know their options. With the county’s statistics of cancer cases, this is an important message.”
According to the National Cancer Institute’s website, Bartow County ranks 12th in highest rate of cancer incidence of the 159 Georgia counties. These numbers include all types of cancer, with breast cancer as the most frequent in the county at 115.4 per 100,000 and lung cancer second at 103.1 per 100,000.
Green, who is also a survivor of the disease, emphasizes the importance of early detection. “I was very blessed to have been diagnosed early. I had a minor surgery to remove the lump and I take an oral medication for five years. I didn’t need any radiation or chemotherapy,” said Green. The American Cancer Society’s website says since the 1990s breast cancer-related deaths have decreased significantly due to the increased numbers of women getting mammograms and improved treatments.
BHA serves members of the community from all income levels that lack insurance or have insufficient coverage. The clinic is not free but operates on a sliding-fee scale based on income. “All patients are asked to provide documentation of earnings and to partner in their own health care. This helps establish personal responsibility and healthy relationships with our donors,” said Green. BHA’s new building located at 31 Pointe North Drive, Cartersville, opened in June.
The Breast Health Navigation program is funded by a grant from It’s The Journey Inc., a non-profit dedicated to raising funds for organizations that support breast cancer awareness in Georgia. ITJ sponsors the Atlanta 2-Day Walk for Breast Cancer that began Saturday, Oct. 5. Representatives from BHA have organized Team Bartow, which is called Tutus for Tatas. Each member of the team will be wearing a tutu and walking to raise money that will fund related programs in the county. Donations for Team Bartow will continue to be accepted through October; those interested in donating or making an appointment can call BHA at 678-535-7216.