Ensuring Equal Access For All: How One Komen Grantee Works to Reduce Cultural, Linguistic and Financial Barriers to Breast Cancer Care

By: Natalie Lennon, 2018 Summer Communication/Marketing Intern

As part of Susan G. Komen’s mission to prevent and cure breast cancer forever, Susan G. Komen Central and South Jersey’s Community Grants program offers grants to non-profit organizations to ensure. equal access to breast cancer support and services.

Reducing financial, social and cultural barriers to care is crucial in providing quality health care for all, which is exactly what one of Komen CSNJ’s grant recipients, Puerto Rican Unity for Progress (PRUP) strives to do.

With a special focus on the Hispanic population, PRUP provides low-income Hispanic/Latina women, ages 40–49 living in Camden County with free screening services, patient navigation, transportation, educational resources and mammogram support to improve access to care.

“Most of the countries these women come from do not have access to adequate medical care let alone exams,” said Zuegely Ortiz, patient navigator at PRUP. “It is unfortunate because in many cases by the time they have their exam it is too late.”

To combat this issue, PRUP’s breast health education workshops and “living room” sessions support women with linguistic, cultural and financial burdens in order to ensure early breast cancer detection and prevention.

Living room sessions take place in the homes of women in the community and create an open, comfortable environment to discuss breast health. Uninsured women are also provided with vouchers for free mammograms from the Camden County Cancer Screening Project or Virtua’s NJCEED Program, at each session.

“These interventions allow for other family members and friends to get the information in a setting that lets them connect with others on a different level,” said Ortiz.

PRUP works to reduce other barriers to care by providing a small stipend for child care, transportation assistance and linguistic and emotional support to patients.

“We also explain and reinforce to the women that the program and its services are designed to help them get a mammogram,” Ortiz said.

The PRUP team truly cares about their patients, and they understand some women do not have the time or even know where to go to receive mammography services. Through outreach efforts and working with hospital programs, PRUP ensures every woman gets the help she deserves.

What makes PRUP even more special is their focus on creating an emotional connection with their patients.

“When we meet other Hispanic women, we feel a connection to them and treat them like family,” said Ortiz. “Having this connection is great when assisting women with a devastating topic/issue such as breast cancer.”

PRUP’s table at our Race for the Cure

With the help of Komen CSNJ’s Community Grants program, PRUP has successfully educated over 880 women on breast health and assisted over 180 women with scheduling and attending their mammogram exam appointments.

PRUP’s amazing work does not stop here, however, and they strive to continue to improve and save the lives of those struggling with breast cancer in the Hispanic community.

“Being able to inform, educate and assist women in getting the information and health care they need and deserve is very important,” said Ortiz.