Health system foundation earns cancer program grants

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Spectrum Health's Butterworth Hospital. Courtesy Spectrum Health

Spectrum Health Foundation received two national grants for its breast cancer program and one national grant to help ease financial burdens for cancer patients.

The National Breast Cancer Foundation (NBCF) recently awarded Spectrum Health’s Betty Ford Breast Care Services (SHBFBCS) two grants totaling $44,843 to advance its work on overcoming barriers to care and enhancing services for underserved women. The foundation also received $25,000 from the American Cancer Society to ease patients’ financial burden of lodging when traveling for cancer treatment to Grand Rapids.

Spectrum’s Nurse Navigator Program received $39,843 from NBCF. The program offers education, emotional support, appointment coordination, patient advocacy, and referrals to specialists for further care and treatment. Nurse navigators also help manage patient care, speak with patients who receive abnormal screening results and assist with biopsies and post-biopsy recovery.

NBCF also awarded a $5,000 grant to help cover a gap in services for patients who do not qualify for support under other aid programs. The grant will assist patients who need additional diagnostics following a screening or mammogram and will cover such services, as well as digital breast tomosynthesis and breast ultrasounds for low-income women in 13 West Michigan counties.

“The underserved patients we support are from a wide age range, diverse racial and ethnic backgrounds, urban and rural areas — all walks of life. The one unfortunate thing they all have in common is finding themselves in financial situations where they are unable to afford basic preventative health care,” said Debby Chatel, administrative assistant, SHBFBCS. “We are humbled and honored to play a small part in helping these patients receive the quality care they might otherwise have to forgo if assistance was not available.”

The American Cancer Society’s grant is expected to benefit 350 cancer patients and their families, particularly those from historically underserved populations. According to Spectrum Health, an estimated 62,150 Michigan residents will learn they have cancer this year, and finding lodging near treatment centers may be one of the biggest roadblocks to care.

“A cancer diagnosis can feel overwhelming,” said Emily Mumford, oncology social worker, Spectrum Health Cancer Program. “The details and cost can be daunting. The ACS grant means our patients won’t have to worry about the cost of lodging. Patients have been relieved and grateful to know that this is one less thing they must be concerned about.”

Spectrum Health recently merged with Beaumont Health under the temporary brand BHSH System, the Business Journal previously reported. The organizations said all Spectrum and Beaumont patients will have ongoing access to the same sites of care, physicians, health providers and insurance plans.

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