Removing financial barriers to care
In Kentucky, where cancer rates are the highest in the nation, innovative programs are helping to address the health crisis, and philanthropy is essential to support these efforts.
The Saint Joseph Hospital Foundation in Lexington received a generous grant of more than $260,000 earlier this year to support the health system’s Yes, Mamm! Yes, Cerv! cancer screening programs, funding their extension by an additional two years and doubling their total grant support to $520,000. This critical grant was made by the Kentucky Women’s Cancer Screening Program through the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s National Breast and Cervical Cancer Early Detection Program.
Established a decade ago by Saint Joseph Hospital Foundation, the Yes, Mamm! program provides no-cost mammography screening, diagnostic services and support to those who are uninsured and underinsured. Strategic community partnerships help to provide essential services and supplies, including lymphedema sleeves, wigs, chemo caps, patient navigation, transportation assistance, patient counseling and education for the breast care team. Yes, Mamm! has raised over $2.1 million and provided more than 4,500 screening mammograms, 850 diagnostic mammograms and 900 ultrasounds. In the past year alone, the program served 664 patients through 582 screenings, nearly 100 mammograms and 129 ultrasounds, helping to improve lives and access to care for those most vulnerable in the region.
“With one phone call, everything changed. All I could say was, ‘Oh Lord God, thank you.’ I didn’t have to focus on bills but could focus on getting well.”
For Joyce Gray, the Yes, Mamm! program was an answer to her prayers. With the news that she had breast cancer still sinking in, Joyce started to fear another obstacle: paying her household bills while she was undergoing treatment. Gray, 53, knew she would have to take a leave from her job as a housekeeper for Saint Joseph Hospital in Lexington for six months while she underwent a lumpectomy, radiation and chemotherapy.
Gray received a call that she said was God answering one of her biggest prayers. A navigator at Saint Joseph East asked if she’d like to sign up for financial support through the Yes, Mamm! program. Gray received aid to cover her bills, erasing all her fears.
“With one phone call, everything changed,” Gray says. “All I could say was, ‘Oh Lord God, thank you.’ I didn’t have to focus on bills but could focus on getting well.”
Following the success of Yes, Mamm!, the Yes, Cerv! initiative, launched in 2021. The goal of Yes, Cerv! is to prevent cervical cancer through promotion of pap smears and HPV vaccinations to provider practices and patients, as well as provide cervical cancer screenings, early stage diagnoses, and oncological pelvic treatment to patients. Yes, Cerv! provides these services at no-cost to eligible women who are uninsured and underinsured.
The program is actively marketed with community partners and through the CHI Saint Joseph Health Partners, a clinically integrated network of nearly 2,000 provider offices across the state of Kentucky, which serves more than 100,344 individuals, is able to reach a large patient population across the state to launch a cervical cancer screening and treatment referral campaign.
“With this grant, the Yes, Mamm! Yes, Cerv! programs will continue to serve women across Kentucky in need of assistance for access to critical breast and cervical cancer screenings,” says Leslie Smart, President, Saint Joseph Hospital Foundation. “We know that early detection saves lives of women faced with a cancer diagnosis. Thanks to the Kentucky Women’s Cancer Screening Program, we continue supporting women’s health across the commonwealth.”
As Kentucky continues to witness year-over-year increases in those without insurance coverage, combined with alarmingly high rates of cancer among its residents, the importance of screening, diagnosis and treatment programs has never been greater. CHI Saint Joseph Health – Cancer Care offers dedicated cancer care centers across central Kentucky and, thanks to philanthropy, continues to bring no-cost screening and support services to women like Joyce.