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SRMC gets major grant to fight breast cancer

By Joel Hall

jhall@news-daily.com

Southern Regional Medical Center (SRMC) has received a $110,343 grant, allowing the hospital to aggressively educate women about breast cancer, and provide treatment for more women in indigent communities.

The grant from Susan G. Komen for the Cure Greater Atlanta is the hospital's largest privately-funded grant ever.

The grant will fund "Educating for a Cause" and "Screening for a Cause" -- two programs aimed at decreasing the number of women with breast cancer in the Southern Crescent through education and prevention.

"We were very excited because with this grant, it gives us the opportunity to reach out to our uninsured and under-insured women," said Jackie Lawson, director of the Women's Life Center at SRMC. Through "Educating for a Cause," informational brochures, self-examination diagrams, and other materials will be given to women entering the emergency department of the Women's Life Center.

"We will be able to educate a larger number of people because we have one of the busiest emergency rooms in the state," said Lawson.

Lawson said in addition to treating a variety of OB/GYN (obstetrics and gynecology) matters, the Women's Life Center also has one of the few Level 3 neonatal intensive care units in the area.

"Anytime women come into our emergency department, we will be providing them materials so that they will realize that early detection is key to preventing breast cancer," said Lawson.

The grant will also provide for a bilingual, English and Spanish nurse navigator. Through "Screening for a Cause," women who fall within certain income brackets will be given free or reduced-price mammograms.

The nurse navigator will help patients who have been diagnosed with breast cancer to find adequate resources for treatment.

"This will help us guide them into the correct resources whether they have money or not, so they can get treatment faster," said Lawson. "We are hoping to reach at least 300 women through both grants."

Elaine Harbin will serve as a nurse navigator and case manager for the program from now until March 31, of next year -- and possibly longer if the grant is re-approved.

Harbin said the grant will help educate the Hispanic community about their treatment options and also help them wade through any language, transportation, or legal issues they may have.

"With communication being one of the most important factors in health care, having someone who is bilingual is very important," said Harbin. She said many Hispanics do not have access to the same health care because "they don't know who to ask." The grant is intended to prevent them from being overlooked.

Cynthia Jenkins, director of the SRMC Foundation, the fund-raising and philanthropic arm of the hospital, said the grant is a "major coup for the hospital and the community.

"This is our largest grant to date, so we are very proud," said Jenkins. "I'm looking forward to the services that we'll be able to provide to the community through these monies.

The grant provider looks "at measurable outcomes," according to Jenkins. "If we do well, it increases our chances of being funded in the next cycle."