During the past five years, the number of low-income women seeking free breast and cervical screenings through a dedicated Carilion Clinic program has steadily grown.
In the last year alone the number of low-income women qualifying for free help jumped about 17 percent with approximately 1,000 women receiving care, said Kathy Womack, who coordinates the program for Carilion. The program is funded through a combination of government and private grants as well as other private donations.
Womack said she expects the trend to continue as more women as word spreads in the community and among physicians and as economic pressures remain. The growth in low income woman qualifying for the program has consistently grown between 10 percent and 15 percent annually for five years, Womack said.
To qualify, women must have a maximum annual income at 200 percent of the federal poverty level, or $22,340 for a single person.
“We enroll a lot who have half of that or less,” Womack said.
Mostly the women are treated using money from the federally funded Every Woman’s Life program, which pays for screenings for breast and cervical cancer, Womack said. For the current fiscal year, Carilion received $181,760 through Every Woman’s Life. Additional money this year was provided through a $79,000 Susan G. Koman for the Cure grant, she said.
Private donations and Carilion’s charity care program cover additional expenses and treatments for the women. Most recently, the program raised $16,000 through its annual fundraiser with Panera Bread.
“That money allows us to send gas cards or bus passes so women have transportation to their appointments,” Womack said.