CDC, State of Ohio team up, bring free health services to women in need

CINCINNATI - The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the State of Ohio are giving women in need throughout southwest Ohio a free ticket for health screenings and services.

The funding, a community service grant called the Breast Cancer and Cervical Cancer Project (BCCP), comes from the United States CDC and the state, which is unique to Ohio because many other states receive money only from the CDC.

Annually, $250,000 is provided. The grant was originated in 1994 by the CDC, and the state of Ohio joined the effort in 2007.

Beth O'Connor, R.N., BCCP's program director, says services reach thousands of women who need a breast and cervical cancer screening and also need financial help.

"Women are eligible if they live in Ohio, are 40 years of age or older, have limited income and are uninsured," O'Connor said. "Women who meet the program criteria are eligible for a free Pap test, pelvic exam, clinical breast exam and mammogram."

BCCP is based out of University of Cincinnati College of Medicine’s department of obstetrics and gynecology, where the staff helps administer the grant in five counties, including Butler, Clermont, Clinton, Hamilton and Warren.

There are 11 offices in Ohio that put the program to work.

"The BCCP here (at UC) screens an average of 1,300 women each year, with a 55 percent re-screening rate," O'Connor said.

A woman who wants to receive testing may call the regional office at (513) 584-0053 to see if she's eligible.

Once she's determined eligible by a staff member, O'Connor says, she can choose from 50 different locations. She makes an appointment at her site of choice, takes a voucher with her to the doctor, and then the bill goes to the BCCP's office.

"The Ohio Department of Health wants to eliminate barriers to women being healthy, like convenience," O'Connor said.

The BCCP takes care of more than just the screening.

"We also pay for the diagnostic follow-up," O'Connor said. "Nurse case managers stick with them through reaching a resolution, which may be a cancer or a pre-cancer diagnosis."

If cancer or pre-cancer is determined for a woman, she gets immediate access to Medicaid for the treatment.

"In Ohio in 2002, the government signed the legislation for the Breast and Cervical Cancer Treatment Act," O'Connor said.

She finds that about 40 percent of women enrolled in the BCCP program require additional medical procedures after screening.

"Studies show that if detected early, nearly all breast and cervical cancers can be treated successfully," O'Connor said.

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