Mammogram outreach funding cut in Bayview

May 20, 2011 7:15:35 PM PDT
It's the second leading cause of cancer death among African-American women, but when it comes to screening for breast cancer, only about half of black women get regular mammograms. A campaign was launched a year ago in San Francisco's Bayview District to change that.

However, it has made very little difference, if any. The health center that offers free mammograms in the Bayview-Hunters Point will lose the funding for its outreach program, and here's the rub -- not because of the economy, but because they missed the October 1 deadline.

A year ago, posters were displayed along Muni's 3rd Street light rail encouraging mainly African American women to get screened for breast cancer. AT&T funded the $20,000 grant. But today the posters are gone and the campaign has ended. Many women living in the Bayview District say there is still a lack of information.

"I know where I can go to get one, but a lot of people in the community don't," said "Karma." When asked why that was, she said, "I don't know. I think it's just because it's not put out there, they just don't know."

Free mammograms are offered by the Southeast Health Center. The interim director, Elsa Tsutaoka, M.D., says once a month a mammography van is provided by the Health Department.

"Even with all the resources and everything our rates are really, really low, so we have to figure out a way to connect women with the resources to improve the rates," said Tsutaoka.

One way the center was trying to improve those rates was through the outreach program, but that funding will be gone by the end of the month. The center had a $98,000 grant from the Susan G. Komen For the Cure Foundation.

"Losing that grant was hard because that was sort of the foundation that was laid out to do that kind of work, like having a list of our patients and doing the outreach to them and really raising awareness," said Tsutaoka.

But ABC7 News found out the Komen Foundation never received an application from the Southeast Health Center to renew the grant.

"I can't administer a proposal process, if there is no proposal to fund," said executive director of the Susan G. Komen For the Cure Foundation Maria Sousa.

The director of the center ended up leaving in February and moving to Los Angeles. The Health Department acknowledges the oversight which has left the center without a way to reach out to women.

"Besides the fact that I know my mom and my grandmother also have mammograms, I wouldn't know very much about what it was for or when you should get them and any other information that we should know about it," said resident Sharonda Laird.

Unfortunately, that health center will now have to wait until October to reapply for the grant through the Komen Foundation, unless they find another source of funds.


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