Rural health offers free screenings

Rebecca Neipp

News Review Staff Writer

As part of the annual observance, health- care providers across the nation are offering reduced-cost screenings as an added incentive for women to get tested for breast cancer.

“We would never want someone to forego a screening because they can’t afford the cost,” said Michelle Whalley, clinical manager at Ridgecrest Regional Hospital.

Thanks in part to a California Assembly bill passed in 2017, “Every Woman Counts” provides free breast and cervical cancer screening and diagnostic services to the most underserved populations in our state.

Local women who qualify for this program can get the help they need at the RRH Rural Health Clinic.

“This program fully covers the cost of screenings for women 40 and older, but also for symptomatic women who are even younger,” said Whalley.

There’s another benefit to EWC, she said. “Obviously, the hope is that your screening comes back as negative. But in the eventuality that you are diagnosed, you will be enrolled in the cancer-treatment program. So the good news is, if you get the bad news, this program will cover you fully.”

She noted that her passion for the cause is fueled not only by her profession, but also by her personal connections. “My grandmother had breast cancer. My mother passed away from it. I have a sister who is fighting breast cancer. So this cause is very close to my heart.”

Whalley noted that early detection of cancer can increase treatment options and improve chances of beating it. “And potentially, your treatment can be much less invasive if you catch it early on. That’s not usually the case in later discovery.”

She also pointed to the many advancements in care options that have developed in recent years — as well as to the recent access to cancer services made possible by the RRH Cancer Center (see related story).

Story First Published: 2019-10-11