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Grants That Make a Difference: “Ladies Night Out” Breast Cancer Screenings

February 24, 2009

Thanks to all who have shared your stories to date -- keep 'em coming! This week's story comes from Ingrid Hansen of the Mission Healthcare Foundation in Asheville, North Carolina, which received a grant from the Kate B. Reynolds Charitable Trust making it possible for women in the region with little or no health coverage to receive free breast cancer screenings.

Grant Recipient
Mission Healthcare Foundation, Inc.
Asheville, North Carolina

Mission Healthcare administers all corporate, private, and state/federal grants to the Mission Hospital system. The organization's goal is to improve the quality and the breadth of services offered by Mission in western North Carolina.

Kate B. Reynolds Charitable Trust
Winston-Salem, North Carolina

About the Grant
$165,748 awarded for 2007-09

The grant was applied toward operating funds for a collaboration that provides breast cancer screenings, education, and treatment for low-income, uninsured, and underinsured women in Buncombe County.

About the Program
There are many reasons that low-income, uninsured, and underinsured women don't get regular mammograms: money, transportation, child care, work schedules. While all are understandable, none is acceptable when the issue is breast cancer and early detection can be the difference between life and death.

A community collaboration in Asheville has developed a program called Ladies Night Out to help women overcome whatever obstacles they face in seeking preventive care. The idea for the program began as an innovation of astute healthcare professionals in the region who recognized a gap in coverage between federally and locally funded programs that provide free mammograms to uninsured women. Those professionals realized that by pooling resources and recruiting help from other agencies, they could remove cost as an obstacle to regular screening. As the plan developed, they managed to bridge the funding gap and erase other practical and logistical obstacles to regular screening as well.

LadiesNightOutPhoto Ladies Night Out is a collaboration of the Breast Program at Mission Hospitals, the Buncombe County Health Center, Asheville Imaging, the YWCA of Asheville, the Housing Authority of Asheville, and the Asheville Buncombe Institute of Parity Achievement (ABIPA). ABIPA volunteers handle outreach; the YWCA provides child care and taxi vouchers if transportation is needed; Asheville Imaging sets aside one evening a month to provide mammograms at basic reimbursement rates and, along with the Breast Program, provides the facility; the Health Center nursing staff gives the exams; and volunteers from each of the organizations, along with community volunteers, staff the screening stations.

Through Ladies Night Out events, between three hundred and four hundred women are screened each year. All women who participate receive a general health exam and health education as well as a breast exam and mammogram. Diagnostic services and follow-up also are coordinated through the program. Ladies Night Out is a festive occasion complete with balloons and flowers, and pink is the color of choice -- a reminder that Ladies Night Out is serious business.

Impact of the Grant
The death rate from breast cancer is higher among underserved women because they are less likely to have it diagnosed during its early, localized stage. From October 2007 through September 2008, a total of 382 program-eligible women received breast cancer screening and health education services through the program. One hundred percent of women with abnormal results have completed follow-up diagnostics. Out of 382 women screened, 15 women were diagnosed with breast cancer and were qualified for treatment.

How did the funder and grantee work together effectively during the course of the grant project?
The Kate B. Reynolds Charitable Trust has been receptive and flexible as new program needs emerged. For example, educational materials once provided at no cost by the state of North Carolina were discontinued, and grant funding was therefore reallocated to purchase these materials.

What makes this particular grant a good example of effective use of philanthropic funds?
The program has been a resounding success, and volunteers from the hospital, participant agencies, and the community have contributed immensely to that success. The flow of the program has been refined over the months so that participants are able to move seamlessly from signing releases to physical exams, mammograms, and sign-ups for re-screening. From the moment the ladies are greeted with a pink carnation to the fruit and veggie snacks offered while waiting for their mammograms, they are treated with dignity and respect. The program exemplifies good community collaboration, use of volunteers, and effective outreach into underserved populations. Most importantly, it saves lives through the early detection of breast cancer.


Do you have a story about a grant that made a difference? Submit your story here, and we will continue to feature new stories on a regular basis right here on PhilanTopic, at one or more of our regional Philanthropy Front and Center blogs, and at other areas of our Web site. We also encourage you to submit stories of grants that are addressing needs associated with the current economic crisis.

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Posted by Josh  |   September 30, 2009 at 12:37 PM

I spent a few monments looking through your blog. Very nice, thank you!

Posted by Renee Westmoreland  |   September 30, 2009 at 09:32 PM

Thanks, Josh. We try to keep it interesting.

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