Arlene (not her real name) illustrates a common sequence of events that we have seen among low income women accessing breast services at Catherine's Health Center (CHC) in the past quarter. Arlene came to us at age 51 with no insurance and having gone without any health care, let alone breast services, in a number of years. With no family history of breast cancer, she felt no urgency to get screened...until this spring when she found a small lump in her right breast. A friend told her about CHC so she came to us in early April. At her first visit, the doctor did not feel any lump, nor could she find it. She had a screening mammogram. On the mammogram, they did see something of note, in the area she described. A unilateral diagnostic mammogram with spot compression and rolled view was performed and she also had an ultrasound on that second visit. The determination was "appears as benign calcifications" with recommendation of a 3-6 month repeat to determine stability.
When she first came to CHC, the Medicaid expansion in Michigan had not yet been implemented so her screening was covered under the BCCCP. At her first visit we informed her that, based on her income, she should be eligible for Medicaid expansion. We assisted her in enrolling as soon as it opened. By her second mammogram and ultrasound she was covered under Medicaid. Since then she was required to choose a managed care Medicaid and now has Priority Health Medicaid which is covering her follow up. It's confusing for us and we understand the system. Arlene told us that if she had to deal with all this "insurance stuff" on her own, she would just not have gotten the first screening. She voices the sentiment of many of our low income women when she says, "I couldn't have done this without you".
We thank the Avon Foundation for Women for our BHOP funding. Without this financial support, we would simply not have the staff needed to help women like Arlene navigate through the complex and complicated process of access to timely and appropriate breast health education and services. On behalf of Arlene and all the women like her, "Thank You!"