Winter Haven - On 2011, The "We Care of Central Florida," a progam that provides free access to specialty healthcare labs/ diagnostics, vision care services, breast care services and free transportation to and from healthcare appointments, added a new project to their already established list of projects. Thanks to a grant given to them by the Susan G. Komen Foundation, they developed and implemented what is called today the Project Think Pink.
The mission of the program is to provide free mammograms and diagnostic breast care services to uninsured and under-served men and women in Polk County.
Currently, Project Think Pink receives the majority of referrals from the multiple free or low-cost healthcare centers in Polk County (Lakeland Volunteers in Medicine, Haley Center, Central Florida Health Care, etc.), but a referral can come from any health care provider as long as the patient does not have health insurance and is at or below 200% of the Federal Poverty Guidelines.
Once the order is received from a health care provider, a brief eligibility interview is conducted to ensure the patient falls within the County guidelines. Once a patient is deemed eligible, the appointment is made with a local diagnostic facility in the
patient's area. The results are then sent directly to the ordering physician. If the patient requires additional imaging or treatment, a new order is received and scheduled accordingly.
In addition, We Care assures that there is the capacity to continue treatment after an abnormal finding or diagnosis of breast cancer. This is typically done through a partnership maintained with Moffitt Cancer Center, who will provide eligible patients with free comprehensive cancer care once a diagnosis is determined. Applications are good for 1 year and cover all services they provide.
We had the pleasure of interviewing Ms. Heather Stephenson, CEO of We Care of Central Florida and when asked about the way this program is helping men and women in our community, this is what she had to say... "Without our program, 1,200 or more Polk County residents annually would go untested. Early detection is the key to fighting Breast Cancer. Thankfully, because of our program, we have been able to early diagnose (with more detailed studies like MRI and Ultrasound-Guided Biopsies) and treat our residents. In the 8 years of this program, we have only had to refer 6 patients to Moffitt Cancer Center for next step treatment. All have resulted in positive outcomes."
Project Think Pink is currently funded through the 1/2 cent sale tax initiative via the Indigent Health Care division in Polk County. In addition, several fundraisers are held annually, which raise over $40,000 per year to help fund this project.
For more information about We Care of Central Florida and its Project Think Pink or to make a donation, you can visit their website at https://www.wecarecentralflorida.org/ or contact them via phone at (863) 662- 4150.