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Free cancer screenings offered to women

Daily Press staff

With Colorado’s unemployment rate reaching a 21-year high at 7.5 percent, Women’s Wellness Connection is expanding its eligibility requirements by offering free breast and cervical cancer screenings to women who are recently unemployed or who have lost health coverage.

A recession takes a toll on women’s health. According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 45 percent of all women and 58 percent of Hispanic women have failed to seek medical care in the past year because the cost was too high.

“During hard economic times, women are more concerned with putting food on the table and keeping a roof over their families’ heads. As a result, many women neglect their own medical care, suffer from stress and adopt unhealthy behaviors,” said registered nurse Sandra Mortensen, Women’s Wellness Connection program director based at the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment.

“Generally, women in this state of mind are wholly consumed with other matters and simply forgo their health needs, which could lead to more serious illness and more costly care in the future. It will impact the entire family.”

Women’s Wellness Connection provides free breast and cervical cancer screenings and select diagnostic services at more than 120 provider sites in Colorado, including one in Moffat County.

To be eligible, women must:

• Be ages 40 to 64.

• Be legal residents of the United States.

• Live in Colorado.

• Have limited or no insurance to pay for these screenings.

• Earn less than $27,075 a year if single and $55,125 in a household of four.

“Being uninsured doesn’t mean you have to be uninformed.” said Mortensen. “The best way to find cancer early is to get routine breast and cervical cancer screenings. In fact, 98 percent of women who find breast cancer early, and 92 percent of women who find cervical cancer early survive it.”

Women’s Wellness Connection served a record 13,228 women in 2008 and expects to serve nearly 15,000 women in 2009.

The screening provider in Moffat County is the Northwest Colorado Visiting Nurse Association in Craig. To find out whether they are eligible for a free screening or to make an appointment, women can call 1-866-951-WELL (9355) or visit http://www.womenswellnessconnection.org.


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