A Commitment to Making a Difference: How One Komen Grantee is Doing Just That

Olivia Bonevento is a featured guest blogger for Komen CSNJ. She lives at the Jersey Shore and is currently a student at a liberal arts college in Pennsylvania. Read more about Olivia on her personal blog – oliviabonevento.wordpress.com.

Susan G. Komen Central and South Jersey (Komen CSNJ) has always been committed to ensuring access to breast cancer services for all individuals, not only the ones who can afford it. This commitment makes a world of a difference for the individuals served, which is largely seen through Komen CSNJ’s Community Grants program and its ongoing relationship with Virtua.

Virtua is a current Komen grant recipient, playing a vital part in providing breast cancer services to individuals who are low-income, under-insured and uninsured in Burlington and Camden counties. These services are delivered through its comprehensive health care system, which consists of three health and wellness centers, three acute care hospitals, two subacute facilities and multiple outpatient services, among other services.

NJ CEED Program at Virtua team, Jodi Ann Kochie, Jackie Miller, RN, and Monica LLoren

Jacqueline “Jackie” Miller, RN, OCN, BSN, is the program director of Virtua’s Komen-funded program and the program manager for Virtua’s NJ CEED (Cancer Education and Early Detection) program. CEED is a state-funded program that provides breast, cervical, prostate and colorectal cancer screenings to low-income, under-insured, or uninsured individuals.

Jackie’s main role, in leading Virtua’s CEED and Komen-funded programs, is to identify obstacles people face, seek solutions, and remove the barriers that limit access to care. Cost, for instance, is the most common obstacle. As such, Virtua offers free screenings through the CEED program for patients who meet certain criteria. For Spanish-speaking patients,Virtua takes it a step further by using Komen funding to provide patients who are undergoing screening with translation services to also address language barriers. In addition, the organization has collaborated with Komen grantee, Puerto Rican Unity for Progress in Camden, on monthly screening events and offers educational events led by Spanish-speaking employees through its THRIVE program.

More people are coming forward in this community, but we are just at the tip of the iceberg. There are always more people who can benefit from our programs. -Jackie Miller

Transportation is another factor that can prevent individuals from seeking care. In response to this, Virtua launched a mobile mammography program in February 2017. The pilot event in Pemberton, NJ, welcomed 15 women, and the number of attendees has steadily increased. The mobile mammography van currently goes to two communities once per month; but “if the need is there, the program will expand,” said Jackie.

“Thanks to Komen’s funding, we are able to offer these programs, classes, and events, and promote them in a way that engages people,” Jackie said. “Also, if patients need transportation to get to appointments and tests, we can tap into our Komen funding to offer this service.”

Komen grants make a difference in ensuring equal access to care for many, regardless of income level or ethnicity. To find a Komen-funded program, visit http://komencsnj.org/about-breast-cancer/interactive-resource-map/ or visit http://komencsnj.org/grants/how-to-apply-for-community-grants/ to apply for a community grant.