Medically underserved residents of three Georgia counties will be able to get a free screening colonoscopy thanks to a collaborative effort developed by the Magnolia Foundation and the Northwest Georgia Regional Cancer Coalition.
Financially eligible people from 50 to 69 in Chattooga, Floyd, Gordon and Polk counties without insurance coverage to pay for screening can apply through their local county health department. Younger people at higher risk for colorectal cancer because of a family or personal medical history are also included.
Health department staff will forward eligibility forms to the Northwest Georgia Regional Cancer Coalition. Numbers to reach health departments:
- Chattooga County Health Department: 706-857-3471
- Floyd County Health Department: 706-295-6316
- Gordon County Health Department: 706-624-1444
- Polk County Health Department: 770-749-2253
Colonoscopies will be provided at Gordon Hospital, Floyd Medical Center and Redmond Regional Medical Center.
Physicians from Harbin Clinic Gastroenterology and Rome Gastroenterology Associates have agreed to provide colonoscopies at no charge to qualified patients referred through the pilot program. If biopsies are necessary, pathologists from Southeastern Pathology will prepare and analyze slides without their usual fee.
If cancer is found during the exam, patients will be referred to Patient Navigators, Inc. for help finding medical coverage for treatment.
The pilot project is part of an effort funded by the Georgia Department of Human Resources to improve colorectal cancer screening in the counties covered by the Northwest Georgia Regional Cancer Coalition. The Coalition, in collaboration with Morehouse School of Medicine, has trained six facilitators from Chattooga, Floyd and Polk Counties to raise screening awareness.
The Magnolia Foundation was organized as a 501 (c) 3 not-for-profit organization to fund colonoscopies, preps, and medicines necessary for free screenings.
Lisa Smith, founder of the Magnolia Foundation, whose mother died of colorectal cancer said,
Three of our primary goals are to remove barriers blocking access to colorectal-cancer-screening services, increase participation in recommended screenings for colorectal cancer and improve area screening rates by the year 2012. This pilot program will help accomplish all three.
There is an article in the Rome News-Tribune about the collaborative effort.