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Metro’s Amigas Unidas program provids free breast cancer screenings

By Arooj Ashraf, La Prensa Correspondent

Cleveland: The Hispanic Cultural Center organized an art show benefit to support Breast Amigas Unidas Program at MetroHealth on June 8, 2012 at the Cleveland Public Theatre, in Gordon Square. Featured were art-works by well known local Latino artists: Dr. María Pujana, Mario Kujawski, José Vásquez,  Hector Castellanos, Bruno Casiano,  Hector Vega, Ana Luisa Sánchez-Butte, and Diego López.

The Amigas Unidas program at MetroHealth began in 2007 as an extension of MetroHealth’s Breast program. Dr. Stevens noticed the disparity in diagnosis and care for Latinas suffering from breast cancer and devised a support group program.  While Caucasian women are more likely to get breast cancer, African-Americans and Latinas are more likely to die because the disease is not detected in early stages.

Camille Garcia, Luz Oyola and Ivonne Rivera Stevens

The program is free and services all uninsured or underinsured, low income women, and men living in Cuyahoga County, said Luz Y. Oyola, Community Health Outreach Manager at MetroHealth Medical Center.  Patient navigators offer bilingual interpretation and guide patients through their appointments, share resources and help with understanding medical care.

Since its inception, the program has identified more than 300 abnormal exams in Cuyahoga County and services over 1,400 patients.

With health clinics, community outreach and mobile clinics the programs is able to provide critical information regarding mammograms, breast cancer and benefits of early direction. Oyola said the support group meets once a month at La Sagrada Familia Church located on the westside of Cleveland and the meetings extend to general health, nutrition, co-survivors support.   Partnerships with 250 local agencies and churches ensure patients are well served—they have access to free food, child care, massages, and bus passes.

Amigas’ outreach programs also offer a comprehensive screening environment for patients and include blood pressure, glucose, HIV testing, and information on domestic violence.

“It is often the only time women are alone and in a safe environment,” said María Galindo-DaSilva, Patient Support and Language Access Specialist at MetroHealth . She is a certified Amiga volunteer and organized the art benefit to increase awareness of the program.

“Miracles happen every day at MetroHealth,” said Galindo-DaSilva referring to the number one rated Trauma Center. She praised the Amigas program for its accessibility; “And it’s free!”

MetroHealth provides patients with a discount rating program that qualifies low income residents with a minimal co-pay plan to finance their bills.

Ivonne Rivera Stevens is also a certified Amigas volunteer. She completed the 6 hour training in hopes of helping women feel safe. She said bilingual patients find comfort in having some along for the exams to talk them through the process. Amigas success is in peer to peer approach, and to date 175 volunteers have received trainings and conduct small group sessions in homes, churches, health fairs, and beauty salons.

The volunteer ‘Amigas’ have educates over 5,000 women on breast self awareness, screening guidelines, and where to find a mammogram in their community. Bilingual proficiency in Spanish is necessary for certification.

On July 28, Amigas is partnering with MetroHealth to for the first time to host a Health Fair at the main campus. “It is a win-win situation for everyone, our patients get to access and visit the campus,” said Oyola.  She said the program has built strong relationships within the community and they feel safer coming out of their comfort zones to the hospital.

For more information on the Amigas Program call: Jasmin Santana at (216) 624-9945
Or Visit:  http://www.metrohealth.org/body.cfm?id=3522


Copyright © 1989 to 2012 by [LaPrensa Publications Inc.]. All rights reserved.
Revised: 06/12/12 19:50:42 -0700.





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