The Drexel University College of Medicine’s department of surgery was awarded a community grant by Susan G. Komen Philadelphia to help fund resources needed for breast cancer detection, treatment, and community support and outreach. The college received the grant to fund the department’s Women’s Health Project. Komen Philadelphia’s mission is to create a supportive and knowledgeable community that is capable of uniting and surviving in the face of breast cancer. Its community grants program funds outreach programs in the local area to help treat those who are uninsured and cannot afford treatment.
Annually, Komen Philadelphia has an average of $1.1 million that it awards to various hospitals, communities and organizations in the Philadelphia area, and for the 2015-2016 grant period, it was able to distribute more than $1.3 million in grants. Specifically, DUCOM is awarded approximately $100,000 each year to provide certain services, and the grant cycle runs from April to March of the next year. The grant money, which is granted directly to the department of surgery, is used to offer patients free services that are crucial to detecting and treating breast cancer, such as screening mammograms, diagnostic tests and biopsies. The grant especially stresses the importance of detecting the cancer early on.
This is what the Clinical Research Coordinator Samira Islam told the University City Review as well. “This grant will help in our goal to reduce health disparities for the uninsured population in this city and to increase awareness about the importance of early detection of breast cancer,” she said. “The earlier it is caught, the better, so we need people to get screened.”
DUCOM partners with various community organizations and local clinics, which in turn refer patients to the department. These services are mostly directed towards underserved or uninsured women who live in the Greater Philadelphia area. In addition, they also treat and screen patients in Montgomery and Bucks counties, and some from Delaware. An estimated 500 uninsured women are projected to receive the treatments and screening procedures. Besides strictly clinical treatments and procedures, some of the money is also used for outreach programs to increase awareness and help with other problems.
As previously mentioned, the grant money is directed towards the Women’s Health Project, which also aids women in applying for Medicaid. This project’s specific goal is to essentially provide equal medical access to all women and reduce the incidence rates of breast cancer in the city of Philadelphia. In addition, African-American women, although they have a lower incidence rate in comparison to Caucasian women, have higher mortality rates because they typically wait longer to seek help due to the lack of insurance and other socioeconomic disparities they face.
Islam, who also acts as the liaison between the patients and their respective referring organizations, explained the grant approval process in detail. Every year, Komen Philadelphia releases an online application and DUCOM then submits a full application for consideration for the grant in September of each year. The applications are then evaluated by Susan G. Komen Philadelphia’s grant reviewer team, which is comprised of community leaders involved with various health organizations around the city. The team reviews and determines the recipients and the amount each recipient will receive for their grants. The criteria involved in the decision-making process involves a thorough review of the history and the past performance of the organization requesting funds, the feasibility of its goals, and its plan for the implementation and monitoring of the grant. DUCOM has been awarded the grant every year since 2003.
Ultimately, the college expresses gratitude to the Komen foundation to have been a continuous recipient of the grant for the past decade. “This grant makes a huge difference in helping women in need and finishing the fight towards a breast cancer free world,” Islam mentioned in an online interview. “Every year, we serve close to 400 women, who otherwise would not have this access due to their lack of insurance.”