Early detection is the best protection when it comes to cancer and most other health issues. That's easier said than done for those with little to no access to medical care.
Providence Community Health Centers serve to offer that equity and will now have help from the New England Patriots, NFL and American Cancer Society in doing so.
In celebration of National Cancer Survivor Month and through the NFL Crucial Catch's "Intercept Cancer" campaign, Rhode Island's largest network of health centers, received a $20,000 NFL Change Grant to benefit breast cancer screenings and detection efforts.
"On behalf of the Kraft Family and the New England Patriots, I want to thank Providence Community Health Center for inviting us to this new, state-of-the-art facility," Andre Tippet, the Patriots executive director of community affairs, said at a check presentation ceremony Thursday.
"What a wonderful, wonderful spot. The work that you guys are doing is going to be tremendous and really impact the community in this area."
To speak to the importance of this initiative was Rachel DeBonis, a PCHC nurse who also became a patient after her own breast cancer diagnosis. While writing her capstone project to finish her degree, DeBonis focused her thesis on continued health screenings, which inspired her to schedule an imperative mammogram.
Not everyone has that foresight.
"We believe that everyone should have a fair and just opportunity to prevent, find, treat and survive cancer," Louise Santosuosso of the American Cancer Society said.
"The Crucial Catch program is an integral part of the American Cancer Society's national "Get Screened" campaign to encourage people to get screened for cancer. Particularly, in those communities that are high-risk and experience barriers to care."
PCHP understands these gatekeepers can often time be as simple as a language barrier or lack of transportation, so it offers solutions to overcome that.
As noted by Dr. Andrew Saal, vice president and chief medical officer, the goal of their nine facilities is to keep people out of the costly and congested emergency rooms, which unfortunately become the easiest way to get attention after going so long without seeing a primary care physician.
PCHP hopes to give everyone access to care, whenever they need it. Especially when time is of the essence as it is with something like cancer.
"PCHC says 'yes' to over 60,000 patients a year," said Dr. Nadine Hewamudalidge, who serves as medical director.
"All of these patients are from unique backgrounds, histories and cultures. From all walks of life, from all social and political climates, they come looking for us to help them navigate the most precious gift we all have: our health."