See, Test & Treat Provides Care During COVID-19
Life-threatening diseases like cervical and breast cancer don’t take a break for the COVID-19 pandemic. Recent studies have shown that more patients than usual have foregone regular preventative care and screenings over the past several months due to safety and cost concerns.
With families concerned about their health and economic security, See, Test & Treat has been able to deliver relief to those communities who are most at risk. Patients in northern Arizona were able to safely access free preventative care at North Country HealthCare in Flagstaff during their See, Test & Treat program on September 12.
“[See, Test & Treat] is very important as many people are afraid to obtain preventative care because of the higher risk of getting infected by COVID-19,” Stephen Raab, MD, FCAP, said.
He knows the value of See, Test & Treat after hosting several events in Mississippi, where health care inequity is at its most visible in the United States. In moving to the Flagstaff area and volunteering to be the North Country program’s lead pathologist, he knew there would be challenges to discover and address.
“Usually these issues relate to gaps between communities and health care providers,” Dr. Raab said. “I think a goal is for providers to learn the methods of empowering communities rather than just providing services.”
Though it’s a starting point, See, Test & Treat cannot continually serve a community for its basic and preventative care needs. That is why the CAP Foundation created the program to be both a gateway source for free care and education as well as a touchpoint between a health care institution and its community.
Through See, Test & Treat, medically underserved women receive free cancer screening, learn why preventative care is important, and connect to a variety of services to help ensure they receive affordable care in the future. As Dr. Raab said, “It helps the community and the health care organization to redistribute the activities of community ownership.”
While some partners—like those providing dental services—weren’t able to host in-person services due to COVID-19, they did provide educational materials and supplies such as toothbrushes. There were also health care professionals on hand to do healthy food demonstrations and to educate about breast cancer self-checks and mammograms.
Toothbrushes and nutritious food options may seem like a small detail, but these services helped promote community health and connect patients to cost-effective providers in the area.
Organizers wanted to provide as many resources as they could while still hosting an event that would make both volunteers and patients comfortable and safe during a pandemic. Safety and social distancing were top of mind as volunteers set up outdoor registration areas and spaced patient visits 20 minutes apart, allowing for speedy and safe patient intake. The team was able to provide the necessary breast and cervical screenings, additional information on follow-up care, and answers to patient questions.
Like most See, Test & Treat events, translators were on hand to serve patients in the language they felt most comfortable with—a feature appreciated by the many Spanish-speaking patients at this event.
Shortly before the event, the partnering hospital had to pull their laboratory and radiology support due to COVID-19, according to Dr. Raab. Thankfully, organizers quickly found other partners in SimonMed and Lab Corp to screen over 50 women for breast and cervical cancers, two of whom required follow-up services due to abnormal results.
After the Flagstaff See, Test & Treat event at North Country HealthCare, dozens of women and their families can have peace of mind knowing they’ve received preventative cancer screening at no cost. At a time when many families’ health and finances are top of mind, the CAP Foundation is proud to partner with pathologists to serve patient communities.