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Latina Initiative offers healing, hope

On May 29, Kaiser Permanente Northwest joined an impressive collection of regional foundations, corporations, Spanish-language media companies and Susan G. Komen of Oregon & Southwest Washington in a vital five-year effort designed to help detect breast cancer in Latinas at an early stage.

Kaiser Permanente is contributing $1.3 million to this progressive campaign, which is being called the “Poder y Vida (power to live) Latina Initiative,” and the need is clear: Statistics reveal that many Latinas, for a variety of reasons, are not getting breast cancer screenings on a timely basis. In these women, breast cancer is being discovered too late to treat effectively, and the tragic result is far too many unnecessary deaths.

Representatives of Susan G. Komen and Kaiser Permanente announced the partnership in Hillsboro at Kaiser Permanente’s new Westside Medical Center, and provided some stark numbers to spotlight the need.

According to Thomas Bruner, CEO of Susan G. Komen Oregon & Southwest Washington, the rate of late-stage breast cancer diagnosis in Latinas is approximately 36 percent. In women of all other ethnicities combined, however, the rate of late-stage diagnosis is 26 percent. That is a critical factor, because women who discover breast cancer early on have a 99 percent chance of living five years or more. It’s a sadly different story, however, if the cancer is not discovered early.

This is a huge problem in the Hispanic community: In Oregon, breast cancer is the primary cause of cancer death for Latinas.

“That’s not acceptable,” Bruner said last week as he discussed the Latina Initiative.

A series of factors specific to Latinas have led to this disparity, including low incomes, lack of child care or transportation deterring them from getting health screenings, and even undocumented status.

The Poder y Vida Latina Initiative is geared to overcome these factors. It is an amazing recognition of a problem and a dramatic response to it. The initiative will tap into the community’s health care workers, including at all the Kaiser Permamente facilities around the region as well as health care providers such as Virginia Garcia Memorial Health Center, to reach the target population. The goal is to find ways around existing barriers to care — whatever they may be — on an individual basis.

Kaiser Permanente is joining with the Meyer Memorial Trust, Reser Family Foundation, Spirit Mountain Community Fund, Collins Foundation, Jackson Foundation, Wells Fargo, Juan Young Trust and the Wessinger Foundation. Earlier, these organizations had jointly pledged an initial $656,000 to the Latina Initiative. Now, thanks to the contribution from Kaiser Permanente, the financial resources available for this campaign will be more than doubled.

In addition to the financial resources, two Spanish-language media outlets — KUNP Univision-MundoFox and Bustos Media — will work to spread the message of the importance of breast cancer screenings to the Latino community as a whole.

It’s a big fight, and Kaiser Permanente is to be commended for stepping up with this sizeable grant to assist in the cause. Specifically, Kaiser Permanente’s contribution will provide roughly 2,800 breast cancer screenings as well as helping to get health information out to Spanish-speaking households throughout the region.

This amazing effort is wonderful to see, and all of the partners involved deserve recognition for launching this critically important program, which will be active in targeted communities all across northwest Oregon. The collective concern and resolve to find an effective means to address this serious health issue is impressive. For all those whose lives will be saved through this outreach, no words of praise and gratitude can be enough.

Those who have worked to devise a program that will result in the detection of cancers, thereby allowing doctors to begin treatment at an earlier stage, are true healers. This endeavor will save lives, preserve families and bring hope. All of those involved in this initiative are working to make our world a better place, and there is nothing nobler.



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  • 20 Oct 2014

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