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InformNNY: FDRHPO receives grant making healthcare more accessible

WATERTOWN, N.Y. (WWTI) – Fort Drum Regional Health Planning Organization recently received grant funding from Exact Sciences, a leading provider of cancer screening and diagnostic tests, to improve the rates of colorectal cancer screening and to make healthcare more accessible throughout the North Country.

“Exact Sciences is honored to support organizations that are working to expand access and availability of screening options for often-overlooked communities,” said Paul Limburg, Chief Medical Officer, Screening, at Exact Sciences. Although colorectal cancer is one of the most preventable cancers,2 more than 50,000 people die from this disease each year in the U.S. alone.”

The Exact Sciences grant will promote colorectal cancer screenings among marginalized elderly, low-income and disabled populations throughout Jefferson, Lewis and St. Lawrence counties by supporting the region’s primary care practices in identifying and outreaching eligible patients and promoting awareness of colorectal cancer screening through a multimedia campaign.

“FDRHPO is grateful to have received this grant,” said Erika Flint, executive director of FDRHPO. “This grant is one of several initiatives that FDRHPO and its partner, North Country Initiative (NCI), have designed and implemented in concert with dozens of clinical, behavioral, and social care partners in the region to support preventive and primary care, the prevention and management of chronic disease, and behavioral health and substance use prevention and management.”  

In addition to the colorectal cancer screening grant, FDRHPO and NCI collaborate with partners to impact regional rates of:

  • Breast cancer screening and cervical cancer screening;

  • Diabetes hemoglobin a1c testing, a1c poor control and eye exams;

  • Statin therapy for the prevention and treatment of cardiovascular disease;

  • High blood pressure;

  • Childhood, adolescent and adult immunizations;

  • Prenatal and postpartum care;

  • Annual wellness visits for children and adults;

  • Screening for future fall risk;

  • Tobacco use screening and cessation;

  • Hospital admissions, readmissions and emergency department visits;

  • HIV viral load suppression;

  • Depression remission;

  • Screening for depression and follow-up plans; and

  • Antidepressant medication management.

Examples of collaborative regional initiatives to impact these measures include:

  • A separately-funded project to promote breast cancer screening through the use of mobile mammography equipment in community “hotspot” locations;

  • Financial and technical support to primary care and behavioral care partners to provide transitional and chronic care management services to Medicaid-insured populations, for whom such services are not otherwise available;

  • Regional media campaigns, such as “Call Us First” which encourages people to contact their primary care team for minor acute needs, and “Healthy Habits” which encourages people to re-engage in primary and preventive care, notably annual wellness visits, recommended screenings, dental/oral care and immunizations;

  • Adoption of a standardized screening tool that clinical and behavioral providers use to identify social needs among those they serve, document identified needs and make ‘closed loop’ referrals to relevant services;

  • A qualitative and quantitative research project to uncover perspectives and trends about accessing and experiencing primary care among elderly, low-income, and/or disabled regional residents, with recommended action steps for primary care, behavioral care and health insurance providers;

  • Provision of trainings to clinical, behavioral and social care staff to improve understanding of, relationships with and strategies to impact their diverse patient populations;

  • Implementation of multiple value-based payment arrangements; and

  • Financial awards to 15 clinical, behavioral and social care organizations since 2021 to pilot or conduct “promising practice” interventions impacting Medicaid-insured and other populations in the region.

The grant was made possible through Exact Sciences’ Funding Opportunities for Colorectal Cancer Screening Uptake Strategies Program, which provides funding to community organizations, health foundations, public health organizations and advocacy groups working to increase access to colorectal cancer screening.

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