By CLINT FOSTER
Breast cancer is a well-publicized disease that effects millions of people nationwide. But the Palo Pinto General Hospital is doing what it can to curb the problem and help women identify the disease before it becomes advanced.
Thanks to a federally funded grant partnership with the Moncrief Cancer Institute, starting Thursday, PPGH will provide fully funded mammograms for women who are either under-insured or without insurance at all. PPGH Financial Case Manager Caye Mauney said the Moncrief Institute is trying to expand this breast cancer screening program to other counties as well, but at this point, PPGH is the first and only rural hospital to offer free mammograms in North Texas.
“We’re able to do it at our hospital because of all the advancements we’ve made,” Mauney said. “We already had the digital mammogram system in place. We’re hoping to get every possible woman who is eligible done in the whole county.”
Mauney said the Moncrief Institute approached PPGH when they received an expansion to their federal grant because of how well they had been administering their grant to four counties in the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex.
The PPGH hospital board then had to sign on for the process to begin.
“This has been several months in the making,” Mauney said. “As with any federal grant, many people worked very hard to get this program to the point where we can actually offer it to the patients. The hospital board and [hospital CEO Harris Brooks] have been great in getting the contract in place so that we are able to serve our patients.”
Mammograms are recommended for all women, age 35 and older. Mauney said the quicker doctors are able to find a problem in a woman’s breast, the easier and cheaper the treatment will be.
“One of the reasons it’s so important is, in the past, if [women] weren’t able to get [a mammogram], then they would be diagnosed in stage 3 or 4,” she explained. “The cost of that, even if we could get them funding, would be outrageous. Then you’re talking about chemo and radiation.”
She continued that breast cancer caught in an early stage can result in a simple lumpectomy, as opposed to a mastectomy (removal of an entire breast). Mauney said PPGH is also fully capable of performing all of the above-mentioned breast cancer treatments.
“We can do all of that here, at home, so [the patient] doesn’t have to go all the way to the Metroplex to have those horrible things done,” she said. “We can keep it all in her hometown, in her home county, where she’s comfortable. That’s our goal: to keep everything that we possibly can here, where they don’t have to travel and go outside of their comfort zone.”
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