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American Cancer Society to Provide Funding To Promote Health Equity in South Dakota

Mar 1, 2016 | Blog

The American Cancer Society will provide another year of funding in 2016 to support increased access to colorectal cancer education and screening resources in underserved communities nationwide.  Thanks to support from Walgreens, Horizon Health Care, Inc. (Horizon) will receive a $50,000 grant award to provide cancer education and access to screening for individuals. A community health center network with clinic sites in 19 communities across South Dakota, Horizon provides high-quality, primary and preventive health care including cancer screening through over 83,000 patient visits annually.

The American Cancer Society’s Community Health Advocates implementing Nationwide Grants for Empowerment and Equity (CHANGE) Grant Program builds community and system capacity to promote health equity, access and navigation to screening resources within underserved communities. Funding for CHANGE grants comes from Walgreens customers nationwide, who choose to donate to the American Cancer Society as they pay for their purchases at checkout.  CHANGE grant recipients utilize funds to reach underserved individuals with potentially life-saving cancer education and implement strategies to reduce cancer screening disparities.

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 as 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.

Horizon will utilize grand 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.

“As part of the CHANGE grant project, we were able to add a patient navigator position to provide regular reminders and cancer screening education to patients who are eligible,” explained John Mengenhausen, Horizon CEO. “We will continue to utilize this position and increase the number of colorectal cancer screenings in our rural and medically underserved areas. Colorectal cancer screenings truly save lives and encouraging patients to get a screening early is key.”

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.

Since 2011, more than 370 grants have been provided through the CHANGE Grant Program.  As a result, grant recipients have reached underserved men and women through over 1.6 million reminders, education and navigation engagements, and provided more than 560,000 breast, cervical and colorectal low or no cost screenings. This success was made possible through donor support from all of the CHANGE Program corporate partners, including Walgreens.

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. The company’s overall support of the Society spans two decades and contributions to CHANGE have totaled $14 million to fund grants in local communities throughout the country in partnership. 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.

About the American Cancer Society

The American Cancer Society is a global grassroots force of 2.5 million volunteers saving lives and fighting for every birthday threatened by every cancer in every community. As the largest voluntary health organization, the Society’s efforts have contributed to a 22 percent decline in cancer death rates in the U.S. since 1991, and a 50 percent drop in smoking rates. Thanks in part to our progress,14.5 million Americans who have had cancer and countless more who have avoided it will celebrate more birthdays this year. We’re determined to finish the fight against cancer. We’re finding cures as the nation’s largest private, not-for-profit investor in cancer research, ensuring people facing cancer have the help they need and continuing the fight for access to quality health care, lifesaving screenings, clean air, and more. For more information, to get help, or to join the fight, call us anytime, day or night, at 1-800-227-2345 or visit

About Horizon Health Care, Inc.

Horizon Health Care, Inc. has been providing personalized, affordable, high-quality medical, dental and mental health care through a rural, community-based network in South Dakota for over 35 years. Horizon is a Federally Qualified Health Center (FQHC) that serves the medical, dental and mental health care needs of South Dakotans in rural, medically underserved areas through 83,000 patient visits annually in 24 community health centers in: Aberdeen, Bison, Bryant, De Smet, Eagle Butte, Faith, Fort Thompson, Howard, Huron, Isabel, Lake Preston, La Plant, Martin, McIntosh, Mission, Plankinton, Wessington Springs, White River and Woonsocket. For more information please visit

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