Griffin Hospital receives $50,000 for breast health efforts

The Susan G. Komen Foundation has awarded Griffin Hospital $50,000 to increase breast health education and provide free mammograms in the Lower Naugatuck Valley.

This includes in Shelton, where the 2011 Komen Connecticut Community Profile indicated there is a high breast cancer mortality rate.

The Komen funding to the Derby-based hospital should help medical professionals to better understand the high breast cancer mortality rates in this region and hopefully reverse the trend by providing low-income and uninsured women free breast cancer screenings.

Why higher rates here?

According to the 2011 Komen Connecticut Community Profile, Shelton and Naugatuck were identified as having breast cancer mortality rates higher than the state rate.

“We do not know why the mortality rates from breast cancer are higher in the towns of Shelton and Naugatuck,” said Daun Barrett, a registered nurse and director of the Griffin Hospital Community Outreach and Parish Nurse Program.

“We are currently collecting important demographic and cultural information to help us better understand why women are not getting mammograms in a timely manner, which will help to save lives,” Barrett said.

Some populations at particular risk

The community profile indicates that diverse types of minority populations are at particular risk for foregoing recommended breast screenings. The black and African-American population represents nearly 4% of the population in Naugatuck and 1% in Shelton. Hispanics are 5% of the population in Naugatuck and 4% in Shelton.

There also are large Polish and Portuguese communities in Naugatuck and even a larger Polish population in Shelton.

Barrett said the education efforts will target these communities to ensure women with the most need are reached. The Komen award will support the breast health education efforts of the Griffin Hospital Valley Parish Nurse Program.

Formed in 1990, this program provides free health screenings, links to healthcare, wellness and safety programs, and support services to community members throughout the Valley.

Outreach efforts

The grant will fund evaluations and questionnaires conducted by the Program’s community outreach coordinators and outreach nurses to determine women’s understanding of breast care, a patient satisfaction survey, and tracking systems to record the number of women who received education and breast screenings, and demographic information on those served.

A minimum of 1,000 women will receive breast wellness education in an effort to increase access to screening mammograms at the Hewitt Center for Breast Wellness at Griffin Hospital.

The Komen funds also will provide for uninsured and underinsured women, free mammograms and screening ultrasounds, which are used for women with dense breasts or abnormalities.

Working with the Valley Breast Wellness Initiative, the Hewitt Center for Breast Wellness will provide at least 200 free mammograms to women of the Lower Naugatuck Valley through the Komen funding.

For information and to see if you qualify for free mammograms, contact the Griffin Hospital Breast Wellness Outreach Coordinator at 203-732-7371.