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Saving Women One Mammogram at a Time

by Wendy Slaton

In 2017, The Rose served 38,868 patients with 5,790 of those being uninsured and sponsored. A total of 69,714 screening and diagnostic procedures were provided, 12,644 were sponsored. More importantly, 389 women were diagnosed with breast cancer, of which 147 were sponsored. In 2018, The Rose served patients from 87 counties in Texas, with mobile mammography sites in 30 counties. Recognizing that with breast cancer, early detection saving lives, The Rose also provides breast health awareness within the community. In 2017-18, over 12,000 educational or outreach contacts were made.

What started as a small operation in a strip mall, The Rose is now recognized as one of Houston’s leaders in breast health care. Dr. Dixie Melillo, a local surgeon, and Dorothy Gibbons, a hospital marketing director, founded The Rose in 1986, after seeing too many women who were coming for care only after they were in late stage breast cancer. The women were among the working poor, with no insurance, who, after discovering a lump, would procrastinate because they could not afford to see a doctor. They were women who were focused more on trying to meet the needs of their families than their own health. The cost of the delay was often fatal. The Rose was created to fill a gap in medical services that still exist. Today, the non-profit organization serves 40 counties in Southeast Texas, including 40,174 patients (6,982 of whom were uninsured), while providing screening, diagnostics and access to treatment to all women regardless of their ability to pay. Through community-based diagnostic centers and a fleet of Mobile Mammography vans, The Rose provides mammography screening, diagnostics, ultrasounds, breast biopsies, bone density testing, physician consults, social services support, education and access to treatment. The Rose services are covered by most insurance plans. Plus, know that when three insured women choose The Rose, they are helping cover the costs of caring for an uninsured woman. For more information, www.therose.org.


 

HFM talked to Dorothy Gibbons, CEO, and Co-Founder of The Rose to find out more…

Can you tell us about the young women you serve (under 40) and any other information about the importance of annual mammograms beginning at age 40?

We recommend that women begin annual mammograms at age 40 because earlier detection equates to a 98% survival rate. Which simply means: mammograms save lives. Even so, women should be vigilant of breast cancer signs or symptoms at any age. For the second year in a row, The Rose diagnosed 40 women under the age of 40, the majority of whom have families with young children. Our youngest was just 24 years old. Most were told that they were too young for a mammogram and too young to have breast cancer…but thank goodness they found us. Seventeen of these women were uninsured and had no resources, which meant The Rose was their only option. 

Tell us about the latest advocacy efforts.

We have our work cut out for us considering a vote will be held soon that proposes a 12% cut in funding for the Breast and Cervical Cancer Services program from the Texas Health and Human Services (HHS). At The Rose, a 12% cut would mean we won’t be able to serve 110 uninsured women in our community. Now imagine what 12% means for women across the entire state of Texas. Part of our work with the Texas Legislature is to ensure that the Cancer Prevention Research Institute of Texas (CPRIT) continues to be fully funded. It’s disheartening how often funding for CPRIT is at risk. CPRIT ensures we can provide services to 1500 women every two years. Since our organization served women from 80 counties this past year, CPRIT is our number one funding source to reach them all. We face challenges each day, but we have been successful in our efforts to require state insurance plans to cover 3-D mammography, which detects breast cancer earlier for more women. 

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