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Avon Foundation Grant Creates Breast Cancer Patient Navigator Program

WINSTON-SALEM, NC. – Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center has received a $125,000 grant from the Avon Foundation to hire two patient navigators to guide minority breast cancer patients through the health care system. This was one of four grants awarded as part of the Avon Walk for Breast Cancer Charlotte, a two-day, 39-mile annual fundraising event Oct. 21-22. Wake Forest Baptist is the only grant recipient in Winston-Salem.

Eliminating health care disparities in the community is a major goal of Wake Forest Baptist. This disparity is quite evident in breast cancer patients: while whites account for more cases of breast cancer each year, the mortality rate in non-whites is higher. In Forsyth County in 2002, the mortality rates for whites with breast cancer was 18 percent and for non-whites it was 39 percent.

With the Avon grant, a new program called the Survivors in Service (SIS) Navigation Network will be created to target women from the underserved and undertreated African American and Hispanic communities who are suffering from breast cancer.

Not only will the two navigators – a full-time registered nurse and a part-time social worker – help these patients from initial visits to completion of care, but they will also educate women in these communities about proper breast care.

They will join the existing multidisciplinary team of the Breast Care Center in the Comprehensive Cancer Center at Wake Forest Baptist which provides services, outreach, education and care for breast cancer patients.

The medical director for the SIS program is John H. Stewart IV, M.D., an assistant professor in the Department of General Surgery’s Surgical Oncology Section. The project director will be Maureen Sintich, M.S.N., director of nursing, Oncology Service Line.

“It is clear that a critical window of opportunity for cure exists between the point of a suspicious finding and the resolution of the finding by further diagnosis and treatment,” Stewart said. “Because minority women face significant barriers during this window of opportunity to cure, their chances of survival are significantly reduced. The SIS Navigation Network program seeks to eliminate such barriers.”

“Wake Forest Baptist shares our commitment to ensuring everyone has access to quality health care,” said Carol Kurzig, executive director, Avon Foundation. “Patient navigation is an important and growing component of helping the medically underserved, and we are proud to support the SIS Navigation Network in outreach to African American and Hispanic women.”

More than 800 participants at the Avon Walk for Breast Cancer Charlotte raised more than $1.6 million. The other recipients of grants from those funds include Carolinas Medical Center and Presbyterian Cancer Center, both in Charlotte, and Palmetto Health Foundation in Columbia S.C. To learn more, go to www.avoncompany.com/women/news/.

The Avon Walk series takes place in eight cities each year, and the Avon Walk Charlotte is the final event of 2006. Total funds raised by all Avon Walks this year exceed $42 million, and registration is already open for 2007 at www.avonwalk.org.

The Avon Foundation was founded in 1955 to improve the lives of women and their families. The Avon Breast Cancer Crusade, the largest program of the Avon Foundation, launched in 1992, has raised and awarded more than $450 million worldwide to advance access to care and finding a cure for breast cancer, focusing on the medically underserved. For more information, visit www.avonfoundation.org.

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Media Contact: Ann Hopkins, ahopkins@wfubmc.edu, at (336) 716-6907 or (800) 899-7128. Fax: (336) 716-7168; or Jonnie Rohrer, jrohrer@wfubmc.edu, 336-716-6972.

About Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center: Wake Forest Baptist is an academic health system comprised of North Carolina Baptist Hospital and Wake Forest University Health Sciences, which operates the university’s School of Medicine. The system comprises 1,282 acute care, psychiatric, rehabilitation and long-term care beds and is consistently ranked as one of “America’s Best Hospitals” by U.S. News & World Report.

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