Atlantic Health System Cancer Care received $80,000 from the American Cancer Society to encourage more New Jersey women to get screening mammograms as part of the national Return to Screening initiative.
Atlantic Health System is one of more than 50 institutions nationwide partnering with ACS on the initiative, though it’s the only one in New Jersey. The $80,000 grant will be divided among four Atlantic Health System sites.
“We are honored to be the first New Jersey health system to be selected for this critically needed initiative,” said Lydia Nadeau, executive director, Atlantic Health System Cancer Care in a prepared statement. “We were chosen due to our commitment, focus and success in raising awareness about the need for continued cancer screening during the pandemic through our Cancer Hides campaign, as well as through our long-time #AskHer breast cancer awareness campaign.”
At the onset of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, elective medical procedures across the country, including cancer screenings, were put on hold. There has been an immediate and substantial decline in cancer screening, and in response to that, ACS started the RTS initiative.
AHS’s Cancer Hides campaign was developed following a review of messaging used by national and local brands, staff and patient interviews, consumer interviews, and a survey of New Jersey consumers about their understanding of cancer and willingness to get preventative care. The campaign, which launched in February 2021 to coincide with Cancer Prevention Month with the goal encouraging men and women to speak with their physicians about cancer screenings including mammograms, as well as colorectal screenings, lung cancer screenings and pap smears, among others.
The number of mammogram appointment requests Atlantic Health System received in October due to the #AskHer campaign.
AHS’s #AskHer public awareness campaign focuses on the importance of breast cancer screenings and is a call to action for all individuals to have this important conversation with the women in their lives. The campaign employs a mix of public service announcements and educational tactics, including commercials, social media messages, direct mail, radio and physician seminars.
Women can use AHS’s appointment portal 24 hours a day, seven days a week to schedule daytime, evening and weekend appointments at 10 different locations. The hospital system said that more than 7,000 mammogram appointments were requested in October alone as a result of the #AskHer campaign. Atlantic Health System experienced a 50% increase in online mammogram appointments scheduled in October as compared to the same period in 2020.
ACS is partnering with AHS and other health systems to focus efforts on populations who’ve historically had low screening rates and are most affected by COVID-19. These Return to Screening Quality Improvement Projects will support health systems in applying quality improvement tools and evidence-based interventions in under-resourced communities to minimize the effects of the pandemic on cancer screening.
In addition to the $80,000 grant, AHS will receive coaching and implementation support from trained ACS strategic partnership staff; access to the latest in messaging, research and tools, and connection to health systems in other states to share promising practices and challenges.
The hospital system said that measures of success for this initiative include minimizing the effects of the pandemic on breast, cervical and colorectal cancer screening; addressing disparities and reducing barriers to screening exacerbated by the pandemic; creating learning communities to foster best practice sharing; and executing long lasting, sustainable and meaningful processes.
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