project spotlight1

Grantee Spotlight: SouthCentral Flies Far and wide to serve their Community

Alaska is the ultimate last frontier state with a population of 737,625 spread between 362 communities encompassing one-fifth of the total land mass of the United States, approximately 591,000 square miles, and is as wide as the “lower 48” states, and larger than Texas, California and Montana combined. The population density is 1.1, in other words each person in Alaska has 530 acres of elbow room. If Manhattan had the same population density as Alaska, there would be 25 people living there! Southcentral Foundation’s (SCF) service area extends 107,400 square miles – from the Aleutian Chain and Pribilof Islands on the west coast all the way east to the Canadian border. Southcentral Foundation (SCF) provides comprehensive health related services to approximately 65,000 Alaska Natives/American Indians living in Anchorage, the Matanuska-Susitna Borough, and the surrounding villages and residents of 55 rural villages. The majority of these communities are small, remote villages separated by vast mountain ranges, stretches of tundra, glaciers, impassable river systems, and open oceans. The vast geographic distances, extreme weather conditions, subsistence lifestyles, cultural differences, transportation challenges, health disparities, language barriers, limited resources, and a widely dispersed and varied health care delivery systems are all factors that impede education, screening and treatment of breast and cervical cancer in the populations of women served by SCF’s National Breast and Cervical Cancer Early Detection (NBCCEDP) program and Avon BHOP.
SouthCentral in Anchorage held an outreach event call Crafting for Health in Nikolai , McGarth and other villages only accessible by plane. The event was announced by the health educators over the two-way radio throughout the region.
The health educators brought Crafting for Health, which is a traveling bead activity that allows the educators to have more one on one time to make a more personal connection with the customer while making earrings and zipper pulls, and to share stories about their own battle with breast cancer and how breast cancer has touched family members or friends. The case includes a variety of pink and teal beads representing breast and cervical cancer ribbon colors, earring hooks, lobster claws for zipper pulls, and earring holder cards that have a call to action for getting screened. The earrings and zipper pulls made by customers act as a reminder to have regular screenings and to have open conversations about breast and cervical health with their providers.
Upon arrival in Nikolai, the health education staff walked three blocks to the school while their displays and educational materials for the event were taken by 4-wheelers. Customer-owners with a family history of breast cancer were encouraged to get screened early.
McGrath is a village on the Kuskokwim River in interior Alaska, 221 miles northwest of Anchorage, it accessible by commuter planes year round and by boat or barge for approximately 3-4 months of the year. McGrath is one of the stops along the Iditarod Sled Dog Race between Anchorage and Nome every March. A little more than half of the 302 population of McGrath is Athabascan or Eskimos. On April 22, SCF was invited to attend the Chugachmiut Community Health Event in Seward, Alaska. Chugachmiut is a tribal consortium created to promote self-determination to seven Native tribes in the Chugach region and provides health and social services, education and training, and technical assistance to the Chugach Native people living in this region. Although the primary focus of the health event was diabetes and colorectal screenings, the community wanted more diverse health education information that touches on many disparities and prevention education. They traveled 130 miles by vehicle to educate 24 attendees on breast and cervical health. The health educators engaged the community of Seward with Crafting for Health beading activity.
Customers were encouraged to talk to their provider about any concerns they have or changes they have noticed in regards to breast and cervical health. These health events reinforce the messages of the importance of regular breast cancer screenings given to them by their providers at their village clinics. Because health educators have taken the time to plan the travel and an event for each village in the remote areas of Alaska, these events have a profound impact on the community and conveying the importance of regular breast cancer screenings. This effort is greatly appreciated by all who attend our events. Attendees arrive by foot, bicycles, four wheelers and cars.
Effort is expended to reach these customer-owners (our word for patients) despite the small number for several reasons including the size of Alaska, location of FQHC centers (and mammography machines), remoteness of the villages, and to affect change in the mindset of families to affect health and wellness in future generations. When SCF educates out in these rural areas, when the customer does fly into Anchorage or Valley Native Primary Care that are able to advocate for themselves when speaker with a provider team.

A Grantee's Perspective

Chenango Health Network has received grant funding from the NYS Avon Breast Health Outreach Program for many years. AVON BHOP support has enabled our agency to conduct our Every Woman Counts in Chenango County Campaign, which motivates, encourages and supports hundreds of women who live in this rural upstate county to be screened for breast cancer and receive necessary treatment and support. Read More