News and Information

June 6, 2013

Komen Puget Sound Supports Breast Cancer Navigator Program

Komen Puget Sound has awarded a grant totaling $116,660 to support Franciscan Health System’s Breast Cancer Navigator Program which benefits medically underserved minority women in Tacoma/Pierce County and surrounding areas.

The award-winning Breast Cancer Navigator Program has been in partnership with the Korean Women’s Association and other community partners since 2005. It has served more than 27,000 women in southwestern Washington who face cultural, language and socioeconomic barriers to receiving necessary breast health services, including screening mammograms. Many of these women are destitute to the point of needing food, transportation, and help purchasing medicines or meeting other basic needs.

“Normally, these women would never get a mammogram unless they have serious breast cancer symptoms,” said Tricia Sinek, manager of the Franciscan Community Cancer Program. “At that point in the disease, their chance of surviving is much lower.”

Early detection of breast cancer through yearly screenings increases the chances that the disease can be treated successfully. Unfortunately, many women within minority populations lack access to screenings and treatment.

The Franciscan Breast Cancer Navigator Program strives to overcome these hurdles by offering culturally sensitive, language-appropriate education and one-on-one personal support. Culturally matched female navigators go to churches, private homes, businesses and other community venues to teach women about their breast cancer risk and the need for screening. Women diagnosed with breast cancer are offered assistance in accessing medical care and receive practical and emotional support in managing the disease.

“Our community assessments clearly report the numerous cultural and linguistic barriers women face when trying to access our complicated health care system,” says Cheryl Shaw, Komen Puget Sound Executive Director. “Franciscan navigators play a vital role in opening doors to medical care for some of our most vulnerable citizens, and in doing so they save lives.”

This is the ninth consecutive year that Komen Puget Sound has awarded a grant to Franciscan to support the breast cancer navigator program. In 2012, the program received $126,287 from the Komen organization.

“As a non-profit organization with a mission to create healthier communities, we are grateful for the continued support of the Komen Puget Sound in our efforts to reach out to minority women in our community,” said Greg Unruh, President of the Franciscan Foundation.

The Franciscan Breast Cancer Navigator Program received the Outstanding Community Service Award from Komen Puget Sound in 2012, and a Health Care Champion Award from the Pierce County Business Examiner in 2009.

Franciscan Health System includes St. Joseph Medical Center in Tacoma, St. Francis Hospital in Federal Way, St. Clare Hospital in Lakewood, St. Elizabeth Hospital in Enumclaw, St. Anthony Hospital in Gig Harbor; Highline Medical Center in Burien; Franciscan Hospice House in University Place; Franciscan Medical Group clinics and providers in Pierce, King and Kitsap counties; and the Franciscan Foundation. Franciscan is part of Catholic Health Initiatives (CHI), a national non-profit health system with headquarters in Englewood, Colo. Currently, CHI ranks as the nation’s third-largest faith-based health system, with annual operating revenues of $10.7 billion and approximately 78,500 employees. In fiscal year 2012, CHI provided more than $715 million in charity care and community benefit, including services for the poor, free clinics, education and research.

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