Women in Bridgeport and the surrounding communities will have increased access to breast health services from the Norma F. Pfriem Breast Care Center, thanks to a $49,000 grant from the Aetna Foundation, the philanthropic arm of Aetna (NYSE:
The money will expand the Breast Care Center’s outreach and screening program, Mujer a Mujer/Woman to Woman, in greater Bridgeport, a community with high rates of breast cancer, late-stage diagnosis and mortality.
“Despite many efforts, too many women, particularly in Bridgeport’s African-American and Hispanic neighborhoods, are still going without check-ups and mammograms. Women are being diagnosed with late-stages of the disease and dying from it at rates that are among the highest in Connecticut,” said Sharon Dalton, vice president of the Aetna Foundation and director of regional grant making. “Our goal at the Aetna Foundation is to promote health and wellness, particularly in underserved communities where access to health care may be limited.”
To advise women in a culturally sensitive way, Mujer a Mujer/Woman to Woman enlists bilingual breast cancer survivors to talk about the importance of early detection and encourage women to take advantage of free breast health care services. The program guides women through the health care system, from screening to diagnosis and treatment. Peer counselors help women understand their treatment options, keep appointments, and cope with the financial and emotional fallout if diagnosed with breast cancer.
Since many low-income women do not see a doctor regularly, Mujer a Mujer/Woman to Woman reaches out to them in places outside the health care system, such as community agencies, schools, food pantries, and other family-related locations.
“We want women to feel safe opening up about a personal issue and navigating the complexities of the health care system,” said Donna Twist, Ph.D., the Breast Care Center’s executive director and vice president for development. “Women have a chance to speak with someone in their own language who’s been through the breast cancer journey. Patient navigators help them access all aspects of care, including assistance for non-medical issues that can prevent a woman from getting the help she needs. The Aetna Foundation’s support means we can continue to reach women who are unaware of their risk for breast cancer and save lives.”