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American Cancer Society Grant Increases Efforts To Promote Health Equity in South Dakota

The American Cancer Society recently announced that another $50,000 grant has been awarded to Horizon Health Care, Inc. (Horizon) to continue their important work to reduce the unequal burden of cancer. The grant will sustain Horizons efforts to provide cancer awareness, education, and screening for colorectal cancer to individuals for another year.

The grant is funded by the Walgreens Way To Well Commitment® program, Walgreens customers and the American Cancer Society’s Community Health Advocates implementing Nationwide Grants for Empowerment and Equity (CHANGE) program.  Funding for the CHANGE grants comes from Walgreens customers nationwide, who choose to donate to the American Cancer Society as they pay for their purchases at checkout. The CHANGE grants help promote health equity and ensure that communities with a higher burden of cancer have equal access to education and screening resources.

“As part of the CHANGE grant project, Horizon has added a patient navigator position to provide regular reminders and cancer screening education to patients who are eligible,” explained Horizon’s CEO, John Mengenhausen. “Colorectal cancer screenings truly save lives.  Encouraging patients to get a screening early is the key.”

Colorectal cancer screening is recommended for men and women who are 50 years of age or older.  Patients who receive screenings and detect colorectal cancer in early stages have high rates of recovery. Early detection is the key component given colorectal cancer has the second highest mortality rate in the nation. Due to the variety of screening methods and individual family history, reviewing options with a primary care provider is important for each patient to determine the best option.

Beyond the addition of patient navigator services, Horizon will utilize grant funds to improve the organization-wide patient reminder system, reduce cost for screening to eligible patients, provide patient education and optimize the use of electronic medical records and the patient portal.

According to the American Cancer Society, disparities predominantly arise from inequities in work, wealth, income, education, housing, and overall standard of living, as well as social barriers to high-quality cancer prevention, early detection and treatment services. Additionally, persons with lower socioeconomic status are more likely to experience increased cancer risks due to tobacco use, physical inactivity and poor diet due to environmental or community barriers that provide fewer opportunities for physical activity and less access to fruits and vegetables.

The Society collaborates with community health partners to reach individuals in communities with high burdens of cancer and limited access to cancer screening. Through the CHANGE program, the Society provides resources to increase cancer screening rates in those communities. Since 2011, CHANGE has awarded 300 grants to partners reaching underserved communities across the country; educating over 889,000 individuals about cancer risk and prevention, and providing over 357,000 cancer screenings.

The Walgreens Way to Well Commitment program, which focuses on improving everyday health through the prevention and early detection of leading diseases, has been a supporter of the CHANGE grant program since 2012. But the company’s overall support of the Society spans two decades and has helped to raise a total of $34 million to date in local communities throughout the country in partnership with their customers. In addition to funding CHANGE grants, Walgreens served as a corporate enrollment site for the Society’s Cancer Prevention Study 3 (CPS-3), the historic research study that will help cancer researchers discover more ways to prevent, detect and treat cancer and save more lives.

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