A Patient Story: Vouchers Program Provides Peace Of Mind

Brittany Myers didn’t have a family history of breast cancer. At 34 years old, she was not yet on a recommended schedule of annual breast imaging.

But breast cancer does not discriminate on the basis of age, race or gender. Last spring Myers Britany Myersfound a lump she describes as the size of a pea.

“The doctor didn’t think it was anything to worry about but wanted to keep an eye on it,’’ Myers said. “I didn’t have health insurance but I qualified for a voucher to pay for the mammogram.

“When it was time to follow up in six months, I found out I could only have one voucher per year so I had the follow-up and started paying for it myself.’’

Myers was going to delay her second follow-up this spring until she was told vouchers would cover all of her follow-up mammograms.

“I would have put my next mammogram off because of the cost. The thought of doing that would have worried me. What if it was growing?” Myers said.

Myers’ growth was not diagnosed as a malignancy but she was able to continue monitoring the abnormality with no-cost breast imaging.

Lowering financial barriers to breast imaging is the primary goal of the vouchers program of the Kenneth H. McKay Center for Breast Health at Genesis.  

Generous financial support for the Genesis vouchers program has come from the efforts of Susan G. Komen organization for many years. On Feb. 9, Komen Greater Iowa announced it would disaffiliate from the recently restructured parent organization. Komen Greater Iowa distributed $525,000 in remaining funds to local entities and programs supporting breast cancer imaging, diagnosis, treatment and other patient services.

Genesis Health System and Gilda’s Club Quad Cities are among the organizations that will receive funds when Komen Greater Iowa operations close.

The vouchers program at Genesis has been available for several years. The Genesis Foundation is now increasing support for women in need.

To help fill the gap created by the loss of Komen funding, the Jim Victor Vision Fund at the Genesis Foundation will match all new gifts and increased gifts to the Genesis Women’s Health Grant Program up to $25,000 through June 30. These donations will be available as vouchers for breast imaging services.

“By bringing down the financial barrier faced by Brittany and many others, we are encouraging them to schedule breast imaging,’’ said Diane Koster, Women’s Health Grants Program Specialist at the Kenneth H. McKay Center for Breast Health. “If we weren’t able to provide imaging at no cost, we could be unaware of breast cancers at an early stage when they are highly treatable.’’

Missy Gowey, executive director of Genesis Philanthropy and the Genesis Foundation, said the public can help support the vouchers program with donations. New and increased donations will be matched by the Jim Victor Vision Fund through June 30. For information about how gifts have an impact on the region’s health call (563) 421-6865 or go to www.genesishealth.com/foundation.