The WE CARE clinic received a $20,000 grant from Susan G. Komen Missouri to expand their breast cancer services and education in an effort to improve the racial disparity in breast cancer outcomes.
Jerrica Ampadu, director of the WE CARE clinic and assistant professor in the School of Nursing, said they were introduced to Dawna Currigan, acting executive director for Komen Missouri, through Phyleccia Cole, an attorney for SIUE who is an advocate for breast cancer awareness. Currigan outlined what Komen was looking for in terms of community and health.
“From there we identified how we could use the funding. We wrote up a document to support why breast cancer [funding] is needed, specifically in the African American community, and how we would utilize those resources to make a difference in East St. Louis,” Ampadu said.
Chaney Bell, nurse practitioner at the WE CARE clinic, said the grant will be primarily used for breast cancer services, such as mammograms, assistance with treatment for breast cancer and diagnostic ultrasounds, for a target population.
“If a woman had a mastectomy and she needed breast supplies, it would include that. It includes clinical breast exams that I do here at the clinic, transportation for breast services, education for breast health and prevention screenings,” Bell said. “It’s not for all women. We have a target population — women ages 40 through 64 — and these are low income women, uninsured and underinsured women.”
Ampadu said the WE CARE clinic represents the population they serve, which is important because research shows that if the provider shares some commonality in identity with their patients, the patient receives better care. This is referred to as the patient-provider concordance.
“We’re able to be the face of health care and with the Komen grant we have access to provide another level of care that we didn’t have before. So by being here, being the face of health care in this particular area and then having those resources and funds, we are allowed to make some impact in breast health in this community,” Ampadu said. “The disparity essentially says that although Black women are diagnosed less, we die more and we have more complications. Our goal is to at least bridge some of that gap, and hopefully we do that by providing trust, quality health care, as well as resources from the Komen grant.”
Bell said besides the WE CARE clinic, there is only one other clinic in East St. Louis, and a lot of those patients switch to WE CARE because of provider situations in which they feel they are not being listened to or can’t get an appointment.
“It’s just having that level of trust and being able to educate. So not only do we have this opportunity with the Komen grant to provide more education, not only do I do woman exams like the clinical breast exams and the Pap smears, we also have the public health educator here who can also provide another level of education regarding mammograms and breast health,” Bell said.
Currigan said Komen Missouri has historically granted money to southern Illinois in addition to Missouri. Since they weren’t able to give the grant fund to their usual organization in Illinois last year, she said they made it a point this year to give the money to southern Illinois.
“[The WE CARE clinic] actually really fit perfectly with our mission to work on the disparities in the health care system, especially relating to breast health screenings and education,” Currigan said. “We felt by granting this money we would be able to reach people who didn’t have access to services, whether it’s screening or other support services.”
Currigan said Komen Missouri is proud to be working with the WE CARE clinic.
“We think it will service a very great need in that area and a number of surrounding counties, because we really are working to cut down on the disparities of the health care system, and the WE CARE clinic is going to be a great partner in doing that with us,” Currigan said.
To learn more about the WE CARE clinic, visit their website.