Access to Breast Healthcare for All

Mary is a 32 y old mother of two. She works fulltime at a local preschool. She can’t afford health insurance, or a car. Because she doesn’t have health insurance, she also doesn’t have a primary care doctor, so when she discovered a lump in her breast, she went to Sarasota Memorial Hospital's (SMH) ER.  She was told she needed a diagnostic mammogram and breast ultrasound. When she called to schedule the diagnostic tests and indicated that she did not have health insurance, she was transferred to SMH's Breast Health Grant Support.  I reassured Mary that through the Breast Health Grant Support Program she would receive her mammogram and ultrasound free-of-charge and that if the results indicated she needed a biopsy, she would receive that biopsy free-of-charge.  She cried with relief when she heard this.

Patricia is a 57 y old woman who had a palpable breast mass and inverted nipple.  At a friend’s insistence, she went to SMH’s Gulf Gate walk-in clinic because it’s in walking distance from her house and she has no car.  Once she had a mammogram referral, she called SMH scheduling to schedule the test. As always, when she said she had no insurance, the SMH representative transferred her to Breast Health Grant Support and I screened her for grant eligibility and scheduled her.  Her mammogram was highly suspicious and indicated that she would need a biopsy, which she received free-of-charge thanks to the existence of the Breast Health Grant Support Program. Her biopsy was positive so I assisted her in applying for Medicaid.  When she and her husband met with me to fill out a Medicaid application, her husband told me through tears that she had been hiding her distorted breast from him because she was afraid they couldn’t afford medical care.  The good news is that Patricia had active Medicaid within 5 days of her diagnosis and had her first surgical consultation before her Medicaid was even active. 

Monica is 58 years old. She and her husband make their living providing artistic design in people’s homes and businesses. They get by on a combined income of less than $30,000 a year.  Monica’s doctor at Senior Friendship Center discovered a lump in Monica’s breast while doing a breast exam.  Monica paid cash for a mammogram at a non-SMH facility, the results of which indicated she needed a biopsy.  She was distraught because she didn’t have the money to pay for a biopsy, so she turned back to Senior Friendship Center for advice.  Senior Friendship referred her to SMH's Breast Health Grant Support Program, where she received her biopsy free-of-charge.  Unfortunately, Monica was diagnosed with breast cancer.  As I do whenever a breast health grant recipient is diagnosed with breast cancer, I submitted a Medicaid application for Monica through the Florida Breast and Cervical Cancer Screening Program.  Within 4 days, Monica had Medicaid and her first surgical consultation.  Monica was one of two breast health grant recipients who did a radio interview with me in our effort to raise awareness about and support for SMH’s Breast Health Grant Support Program.  When asked by Heidi Goldman what she would have done without SMH's Breast Health Grant Support Program, Monica answered without hesitation, “I would have fallen through the cracks.”

SMH’s Breast Health Grant Support Program ensures that no resident of Sarasota County has to fall through the cracks when it comes to breast health care.  While there are occasionally other programs offering free screening mammograms in Sarasota County, there is no other program providing the full continuum of breast care to those in our community who can’t afford medical care.  Be it a mammogram, ultrasound, aspiration or biopsy, our grant recipients receive all of the screening and diagnostic tests they need.  For those diagnosed with breast cancer, they will then have timely access to the full continuum of breast cancer care and treatment, guided every step of the way by SMH’s Breast Health Grant Support Program.


How to Help:

SMH's Breast Health Grant Support Program depends 100% upon donations from groups and individuals in our community. If you would like to contribute directly to our efforts to ensure that no woman or man in our community has to go without the breast health care they may need due to an inability to pay for those services, please contact Sarasota Memorial's Healthcare Foundation.


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