Planned Parenthood sets breast health initiative
By Sarah Kliff,
Planned Parenthood officials will announce Monday their plan to direct $3 million in donations to a new breast health initiative, offering new preventive services and expanding educational materials.
The donations had come in a surge earlier this year after Susan G. Komen for the Cure announced it was ending its grants to Planned Parenthood, a decision that was quickly reversed after public backlash.
“Given the events of the last year, and the contributions that came in specifically around the conversation about breast health and our work with Komen, we felt it was important to use that money to expand access and education,” Planned Parenthood President Cecile Richards said. “We felt like we had a real opportunity here to do something new.”
Planned Parenthood has long offered basic breast exams at clinics across the country, providing more than 750,000 such services in 2011. If those exams detected an abnormality, however, the organization did not fund follow-up care.
The new initiative will put $1 million toward paying for more diagnostic tests such as mammograms, biopsies and ultrasounds. The remainder of the funds will go toward outreach and education efforts that target women under 40 and Hispanic women, a demographic that has disproportionately high death rates from breast cancer. Planned Parenthood plans to expand its community health worker program, which connects Latinas to clinic services.
The organization also plans to roll out an assessment tool meant to help doctors better understand each patient’s breast cancer risk.
“This will help us get women the care they need faster,” said Deb Nucatola, medical services director for Planned Parenthood.
Within a few days of Komen’s announcement that it would stop funding Planned Parenthood in January, more than 77,000 people donated more than $3 million.
Planned Parenthood initially planned to use that money to offset the grants it expected to lose, but ended up raising about four times the amount it usually received in Komen grants. When the breast cancer charity reversed its policy, allowing funds to flow again, Planned Parenthood decided to still target those extra dollars to breast health programs.
Instead of filling holes, however, the $3 million would create new resources.
“We want to make sure nobody lost services or funding,” Richards said. “The Komen partnerships are local. Some have continued, some haven’t for whatever reason. We’ve made sure everyone has gotten the funding they expected.”
At least 17 Planned Parenthood affiliates have received Komen funding this year, similar to the 19 grants that went out in 2011.
Planned Parenthood of Orange and San Bernardino Counties received $60,000 from its local Komen affiliate this year to pay for patients who needed mammograms or biopsies after an initial breast exam.
It will now use a $30,000 grant from the national Planned Parenthood to help meet growing demand for those services.
“This new grant will expand our ability between 25 and 50 percent,” said John Dunn, chief executive of the affiliate in Orange and San Bernardino counties. “This program has been growing very fast. We’ve seen twice as many patients in 2012 as we had at this point in 2011.”
Dunn said his relationship with the Komen affiliate in Orange County has remained strong, despite the national controversy.
“We have had a very close and collegial working relationship that continued this year,” he said.