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"Unlike other free mammogram offers in the community, SMH’s Breast Health Grant Support Program provides low-income, uninsured Sarasota County residents access to the full continuum of breast health care," explains Michelle Young, Breast Health Grant Support Representative at SMH. "Those patients diagnosed with breast cancer, who are ineligible for Medicaid, receive the full continuum of breast cancer care through Sarasota Memorial’s Community Medical Clinic."

The Healthcare Foundation awarded SMH a grant to support its Breast Health Program which ensures that all qualifying individuals receive access to breast health care, including follow-up diagnostic tests such as mammograms, breast ultrasounds and breast biopsies and timely access to the surgery, treatment and care she needs.

The grant works in multiple ways. For some, a patient has just 1 annual screening mammogram covered by a grant over a 12-month time period. In other cases, a patient requires a follow-up diagnostic mammogram and/or ultrasound, and could again be called back for a breast biopsy, which requires follow-up tests or procedures. In those cases, individual patients have their  multiple visits covered by breast health grants over a 12-month period.

"When a grant recipient is diagnosed with breast cancer, I coordinate with the Florida Breast and Cervical Cancer Screening Program (FBCCP), based at Sarasota County Health Department, to quickly obtain full Medicaid for the patients," says Michelle, who works with all uninsured patients who need to seek Breast Health services at SMH. "As a result, 74% of low-income, uninsured patients coming through SMH’s Breast Health Grant Support Program between May 2014-June 2017, obtained full Medicaid coverage upon diagnosis. A low-income, uninsured breast cancer patient who applies for Medicaid on her own through the Department of Children and Families generally will not receive full Medicaid unless her cancer is stage 4. Most breast cancer diagnoses are not stage 4, so our success in obtaining full Medicaid for this population is significant."

SMH’s Breast Health Grant Support Program also offers a Good Samaritan Pharmacy, a free clinic that temporarily purchases specific brand medications for those individuals that are not able to take generic due to their specific ailment.  Once the patient is stabilized, however, patient advocates help patients to sign up for continuous Prescription Assistance Programs offered by pharmaceutical manufacturers.

"Originally," says Michelle, "SMH Breast Health Grant Support was funded by Susan G. Komen’s Florida Suncoast affiliate, however in 2014, Komen Florida Suncoast notified us that relative to neighboring counties, Sarasota County’s economic status puts our county in a position to take care of its own medically underserved residents. Since then, the program has relies entirely on donated funds and grants."

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