Nonprofit opens mammography screening center in West Palm Beach
The Promise Fund Mammography Screening Center aims to help underserved women get care.
The Palm Beach Post – October 27, 2020
Nancy Brinker made her sister a promise 40 years ago — and because she did, Susan G. Komen, as the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation is now known, has taught the world about the risks of breast cancer and how much research money matters.
Now, she’s joined with two friends, Julie Fisher Cummings and Laurie Silvers, to fulfill the second part of her promise to Komen: Give all women access to total care — from mammograms to transportation to follow-up care — right here in Palm Beach County.
Fisher Cummings is a philanthropist and advocate for vulnerable women and children. She is also the founder of Lovelight Foundation, which focuses on domestic child sex trafficking, underserved women and girls, and quality early childhood education. Silvers is a philanthropist and practiced law in South Florida for more than 10 years before starting her career as a media entrepreneur.
According to the Florida Women’s Funding Alliance, Florida currently ranks last in the nation in providing government resources for women’s health care. The Florida Department of Health has estimated that in five years, of the 6,800 women who will be diagnosed, 1,200 will die from breast and cervical cancer in Palm Beach County, impacting their families and communities.
Many of these women are minorities who may face language, cultural and/or financial barriers to receiving care. The 2019 US Census Bureau revealed that close to 80,000 women ages 18 to 65 in Palm Beach County have no health insurance coverage, resulting in a crisis in breast and cervical cancer prevention and treatment in South Florida.
The goal of the Promise Fund of Florida is to create systemic change by developing a continuum of care service delivery model, in which patients are provided health education, navigation for breast and cervical health, early detection screenings, diagnostics, treatment, and support services through an established network of providers, reducing to reduce health care costs and alleviate the burden of the complex health care system.
By creating this continuum of care model, the Promise Fund aims to provide ongoing access to regular screenings and treatment in Palm Beach County and serve as a model for care that can be replicated in communities across Florida and beyond to provide access to health care for underserved communities.
As part of that goal, this month, the Promise Fund is set to open an eponymous mammography screening center at FoundCare’s West Palm Beach facility. The objective of the Promise Fund Mammography Screening Center is to provide a one-stop shop for women to access breast and cervical cancer screenings.
A state-of-the-art 3D mammography machine donated by Hologic to the Promise Fund will offer free screenings to uninsured women with limited financial resources, thanks to funding by the Promise Fund. It is anticipated that 1,000 women will be served during the first year of operation. All other services will be provided on a sliding fee scale, based on household size and income.
Krystian von Speidel: You founded one of the largest breast cancer organizations in the United States, Susan G. Komen Foundation. Can you touch on how and why you became involved in the breast cancer movement?
Nancy Brinker: In 1982, my sister, Susan, passed away from breast cancer at the age of 36. I promised her I would do everything I could to stop the heartless progression and social stigma of this disease, even if it took the rest of my life. My first mission was to increase awareness and research around this disease that, many years ago, people would not even talk about in public. I accomplished that through my work in establishing the Susan G. Komen Foundation and Race for the Cure.
KvS: You have a whole new chapter in this fight against breast cancer through the Promise Fund of Florida. Tell us more about why you decided to establish the organization and how it differs from other organizations with which readers may be more familiar?
NB: I believe wholeheartedly that local politics and local health care decisions are what improve access to breast and cervical care for those who need it most. A large, national charity is not always the most optimal solution for providing personalized treatment to the women in our community. I co-founded the Promise Fund of Florida, a grassroots and community-driven organization, to help eliminate barriers to quality health care and provide access to lifesaving preventive care, diagnosis and treatment for women right here in Palm Beach County.
KvS: What are some of the biggest challenges facing women affected by breast and cervical cancer in Palm Beach County?
NB: Lack of access to transportation is posing to be a critical problem for many of the patients that we are working with, delaying screenings and treatments because they have no way of getting there. Promise Fund has partnered with Uber Health to provide patients with access to nonemergency medical transportation to help them maintain vital health care appointments for breast and cervical cancer screenings, especially amidst the COVID-19 pandemic.
KvS: The Promise Fund of Florida is focused on reducing deaths from late-stage breast and cervical cancer for women who reside right here in Palm Beach County. How are you accomplishing this goal?
NB: In addition to the upcoming opening of the Promise Fund Mammography Screening Center at FoundCare, which will provide free mammography screenings to under-resourced women, Promise Fund engages and funds credentialed and culturally competent patient navigators who fill gaps in access to health care and guide those in need through our continuum of care, which makes the journey for the patient far less burdensome.
KvS: October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month. What would you like people to know about how they can help?
NB: There are many calls to action during Breast Cancer Awareness Month, including the call to purchase items that give back to organizations such as the Promise Fund. While donations are critical, I want people to know that they can help reduce negative breast and cervical cancer outcomes by seeking preventive care themselves. Since 1989, we have made enormous gains in increasing survival rates of breast and cervical cancer, largely due to screenings. I cannot overstate the importance of early and frequent preventive screenings.
To get involved, donate or learn more about the Promise Fund of Florida, visit promisefundofflorida.org.