The Nathan Littauer Hospital and Nursing Home in Gloversville has been awarded a $26,000 grant from the Avon Foundation Breast Care Fund to increase community awareness about the importance of early detection in treating breast cancer.
The funding has allowed the hospital to hire Susanne Herrmann as the hospital’s women’s health outreach coordinator. Herrmann works from the hospital’s HealthLink Wellness Center in the Johnstown Mall. HealthLink promotes wellness by offering health education programs and serving as a resource center for health-related issues.
Herrmann’s goal over the next year is to reach 250 women and encourage them to be screened for breast cancer and have clinical breast examinations. Herrmann said she is taking a trip to Houston this weekend to meet with other grant recipients and learn about ways to reach women in the area.
According to the American Cancer Society, breast cancer is the most common form of cancer in women in the United States and is the leading cause of death overall in women between the ages of 40 and 55. In Fulton County, 30 percent of women with breast cancer were not diagnosed at an early stage, according to American Cancer Society statistics.
“Health screenings save lives and, in general, the earlier a cancer is diagnosed and treatment started the better the outcome,” Littauer’s Community Education Director Sue Cridland said. “By offering more frequent and consistent screenings, we hope to improve the incidence of diagnosis at an early stage.”
Herrmann said women aren’t tested for breast cancer because of a number of factors, including lack of transportation and insurance and fear of test outcomes.
“It is my job to walk these women through the process and get rid of any of these barriers,” Herrmann said.
Herrmann finds ways for a patient to pay for clinical services, provides transportation and will even accompany patients if they are scared.
The Avon Foundation Breast Care Fund supports community-based, nonprofit breast health programs across the county. Nathan Littauer Hospital and Nursing Home was one of 143 new grant recipients nationwide. The organizations given grants were selected based on their ability to reach women, especially low income, minority and older women who are often medically underserved.
Herrmann said the program she plans to implement will give women no excuse to not be tested for breast cancer.
“Whether she has insurance, has no insurance or is underinsured, there are solutions and I’m the person they should call to walk them through it,” Herrmann said.
Herrmann can be reached at 736-1120. The HealthLink Wellness Center is located in the Johnstown Mall on Route 30A.