Pictured L to R Dr. Gail Reilly, Chief Clinical and Quality Officer at VNACJ CHC, Asbury Park Councilwoman Yvonne Clayton, JoAnne Ruden, Administrator, Children and Family Health Institute at VNA Health Group, Dr. Kristine McCoy, Executive Director at VNACJ CHC, Alison Murtha, Health Systems Manager, Primary Care, American Cancer Society, NJ Assemblyman Eric Houghtaling.

November 1, 2016 (Asbury Park, NJ) – Visiting Nurse Association of Central Jersey (VNACJ) Community Health Center teamed up with the American Cancer Society and NFL Foundation to host “A Crucial Catch Day,” a community-wide event designed to educate women about the importance of regular breast exams and to help reduce breast cancer rates in under-served communities.

Since 2009, the American Cancer Society has partnered with the NFL Foundation for CHANGE to fund efforts by local health agencies to reduce breast cancer disparities in their communities. VNACJ was one of 32 community health organizations nationwide that received grants this year. Crucial Catch Day was the only event of its kind in the state of New Jersey.

More than 115 people attended yesterday’s Crucial Catch Day to raise awareness and education for breast cancer, including Asbury Park Councilwoman Yvonne Clayton and Assemblyman Eric Houghtaling. The event featured music, games, arts and crafts and most importantly free breast cancer screenings. Twenty women received free mammograms from the VNACJ staff.

“When you are struggling to pay your rent and feed your family, getting screened for cancer and other diseases are not at the top of your to-do list,” said Dr. Kristine McCoy, Executive Director at the VNACJ Community Health Center. “This event was critical in reaching women who might otherwise lack the money, time, or resources to access important breast cancer screenings and we are deeply grateful to the American Cancer Society and the NFL Foundation for CHANGE for supporting this initiative.

In New Jersey, female breast cancer accounts for 15% of all cancer cases according to a 2012 report by the American Cancer Society, yet almost 16% of women 18-44 are uninsured and therefore less likely to receive life-saving screenings. By providing free screenings, “Crucial Catch Day” helps detect breast cancer in women who may not have the resources to get checked.

The VNACJ Community Health Center is part of the Children and Family Health Institute at VNA Health Group, which is committed to providing high-quality health services to persons who are uninsured or underinsured. Programs with the Children and Family Health Institute are known for offering free, safe health screenings at neighborhood locations throughout the area to address disparities like these. In 2015, more than 50,000 New Jersey residents accessed free or low-cost health services through the Children and Family Health Institute.