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Keystone Mercy Health Plan Initiative Brings Cancer Screenings to Underserved Women in Their Communities
Date:10/20/2009

Gift for Life Program Addresses Fears Associated with Cancer Detection Exams by Providing Information and Support

Philadelphia, PA (Vocus) October 20, 2009 -- Keystone Mercy Health Plan, the largest Medical Assistance managed care organization in Pennsylvania, has provided preventive cancer detection screenings, including mammography and pap smear exams, to more than 2,100 women through its Gift for Life program, an initiative that supports underserved women in the Greater Philadelphia area, who have, either, never received a cancer screening or who have not been tested over a recent two-year period. The program, in existence since 2008, is designed to educate female Keystone Mercy members, who are 40 years of age or older, for mammograms, and to female members who are 18 and over, for pap smears, about the importance of these preventive yearly exams and increase routine screening rates.

A study conducted last year by Keystone Mercy Health Plan revealed that many underserved women do not receive recommended preventive health screenings, such as mammograms and pap smears, because of fears they associated with these tests. The majority of members disclosed that their fears included a positive diagnosis, having to endure painful tests and treatment or a fear that they could contract cancer through use of mammography machines.

Keystone Mercy Health Plan used this information to create the Gift for Life program which addresses those concerns by providing targeted health education to its members. Through its network of Gift for Life representatives, the program also provides support to members by attending screening sites, and offering to accompany them if a follow-up appointment is required. Representatives undergo a mandatory training with a cancer specialist to learn how to respond to members' concerns. They also alert members who need screenings, answer any questions member
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