The Visiting Nurse Association of Central Jersey (VNACJ) Community Health Center (CHC), a Federally Qualified Health Center, joined the American Cancer Society and the National Football League for “A Crucial Catch Day” last week, an event that provided free on-site mammograms and breast exams as well as education booths from community partners, food, free massages, face painting, music and a photo both.
More than 120 people attended the event and 21 women received mammograms in a mammogram mobile unit that was specially commissioned for the day. Forty-six women received breast examinations inside the VNACJ Community Health Center.
“Women are the caregivers for everyone else but we don’t always take time to care for ourselves. That’s why we wanted our event to offer immediate, on-site access for breast exams and mammograms to reach women who might now find the time later to follow up on this important preventative cancer screening.” said JoAnne Ruden, Interim Executive Director at the VNACJ Community Health Center.
Education booths included VNA Health Group’s Cancer screening and early detection (CEED) program that provides cancer detection screenings for uninsured, low-income residents of Monmouth County and Community Affairs and Resource Center (CARC), a collaboration partner with VNACJ CHC, who registered attendees for an 8-week healthy eating and exercise class. Additional booths included Soul Focus, Mary’s Place, University Radiology, VNACJ CHC Disparity Grant, The Mercy Center, Tao Massage, Unforgettable DJ, Max’s Hot Dog and Runa Peruvian Cuisine who also generously donated their time.
New Jersey Assemblywoman Caroline Casagrande (NJ-11) attended the event, spoke with attendees and toured the VNACJ Community Health Center and the mobile mammogram unit.
The Affordable Care Act (also known as “Obamacare”) mandated that health insurers including Medicaid cover mammogram screenings for breast cancer, which remains an important preventative exam to detect cancer early, before symptoms such as lumps in the breast are felt.
Yet nearly a quarter of women in New Jersey (24%) do not get annual mammogram screenings. According to the National Women’s Law Center, New Jersey meets federal standards in coverage of mammograms, but ranks 27th in the number of their residents who remained uninsured and 17.4% of women remain uninsured.
The A Crucial Catch Initiative is collaboration between the National Football League (NFL) and the American Cancer Society to provide breast cancer screenings and education to areas in need across the country. This year, the VNACJ Community Health Center was one of 32 grant recipients to receive grant funding to for the event and to implement strategies to address the unequal burden of breast cancer in the Asbury Park area.
“We are grateful to the American Cancer Society and the NFL Foundation for CHANGE for their support and helping to address unmet health needs in our communities,” said Ruden.