Feature

Grant to fund Chicago-area programs aimed at reducing cancer care disparities

Winn_Robert_80x106
Robert A. Winn

The University of Illinois Cancer Center has received a 3-year, $1.5 million grant from the Bristol-Myers Squibb Foundation to support programs intended to reduce cancer disparities in the Chicago area, according to a press release.

“We are a different kind of cancer center,” Robert A. Winn, MD, associate vice chancellor for community-based practice and director of the University of Illinois Cancer Center at the University of Illinois at Chicago, said in a press release. “We are about going where everyday people are and bridging the gap between what happens in a scientific lab and what people experience in real life. We want all people, regardless of ZIP code or skin color, to have their best chance for a long and healthy life.”

The grant will help fund development of population-specific cancer prevention and screening programs at community hospitals and health centers in three high-need Chicago neighborhoods — Austin, Humboldt Park and South Shore.

HemOnc Today spoke with Winn about the need for these programs, how they will be rolled out, and how he hopes the programs will help reduce cancer disparities in the Chicago area.

Question: Can you explain the need for population-specific cancer prevention and screening programs in the Chicago area?

Answer: The Bristol-Meyers Squibb grant is specifically covering cervical and colorectal cancer. Some may ask why we are looking at cervical cancer, as it does not appear to be an issue, but although this is true for most areas, there are some communities where the rates and deaths of cervical cancer are higher than in other areas of the country. The problem with some of the ‘big data’ is that these communities suffer as the data are generalized and not individualized. We really want to ensure that communities are not made invisible in our quest to obtain bigger data.

Q: What will this grant fund?

A: The grant will predominately fund cervical cancer screening at Norwegian Hospital, UI Health Mile Square Health Center, and the Loretto Hospital. We will also conduct colorectal cancer screening in the South Shore community. We chose these two cancer screenings because we found there was a need for improvement in these specific neighborhoods.

Q: How will the programs be rolled out?

A: In the first phase, we are developing partnerships and creating the workflow and program infrastructures within the community. We are trying to ensure that the community has buy-in and that we are invited and welcomed to roll out these programs. In the second phase, we will hire full-time patient navigators for the Loretto Hospital and Norwegian Hospital who will conduct the community outreach and patient navigation. The programs will rely on these community navigators to reach more than 600 people living in these high-need areas and work directly in those communities to help remove barriers to obtaining an early cancer diagnosis. The final phase will involve more of a grass-roots approach. We will partner with a long-standing group, Project Brotherhood, which will help us develop relationships with local barbershops and beauty salons to help recruit individuals who are not up to date with their cancer screenings but are eligible to be screened. We are not only engaging the community but involving the community to provide outstanding work.

Q: What is your ultimate hope for how the programs will help reduce cancer disparities in the Chicago area?

A: I hope these programs will make more people aware of the increased rates of cervical cancer and colorectal cancer in these areas and that this awareness will lead more people to be screened for these cancers. As a result of more screenings, we are hoping to identify people earlier on with these cancers that we can treat. The second hope is in the context of economic development. Hopefully this will have a snowball effect and lead to more hires and resources within the communities. Thirdly, we hope to generate more knowledge on how to screen more effectively and identify unforeseen barriers, and to overcome those barriers in a more effective and efficient way.

Q: Is there anything else that you would like to mention?

A: This is an effort to not only do well by these neighborhoods, but also toward economic development and skill building. This is truly a different type of model where we will go into these communities with a great sense of humility that we will learn with and from the community how to better serve the people in Chicago. – by Jennifer Southall

For more information:

Robert A. Winn, MD, can be reached at University of Illinois Cancer Center, 818 S. Wolcott Ave., Chicago, IL 60612; email: rwinn@uic.edu.

Disclosure: Winn reports no relevant financial disclosures.

Winn_Robert_80x106
Robert A. Winn

The University of Illinois Cancer Center has received a 3-year, $1.5 million grant from the Bristol-Myers Squibb Foundation to support programs intended to reduce cancer disparities in the Chicago area, according to a press release.

“We are a different kind of cancer center,” Robert A. Winn, MD, associate vice chancellor for community-based practice and director of the University of Illinois Cancer Center at the University of Illinois at Chicago, said in a press release. “We are about going where everyday people are and bridging the gap between what happens in a scientific lab and what people experience in real life. We want all people, regardless of ZIP code or skin color, to have their best chance for a long and healthy life.”

The grant will help fund development of population-specific cancer prevention and screening programs at community hospitals and health centers in three high-need Chicago neighborhoods — Austin, Humboldt Park and South Shore.

HemOnc Today spoke with Winn about the need for these programs, how they will be rolled out, and how he hopes the programs will help reduce cancer disparities in the Chicago area.

Question: Can you explain the need for population-specific cancer prevention and screening programs in the Chicago area?

Answer: The Bristol-Meyers Squibb grant is specifically covering cervical and colorectal cancer. Some may ask why we are looking at cervical cancer, as it does not appear to be an issue, but although this is true for most areas, there are some communities where the rates and deaths of cervical cancer are higher than in other areas of the country. The problem with some of the ‘big data’ is that these communities suffer as the data are generalized and not individualized. We really want to ensure that communities are not made invisible in our quest to obtain bigger data.

Q: What will this grant fund?

A: The grant will predominately fund cervical cancer screening at Norwegian Hospital, UI Health Mile Square Health Center, and the Loretto Hospital. We will also conduct colorectal cancer screening in the South Shore community. We chose these two cancer screenings because we found there was a need for improvement in these specific neighborhoods.

Q: How will the programs be rolled out?

A: In the first phase, we are developing partnerships and creating the workflow and program infrastructures within the community. We are trying to ensure that the community has buy-in and that we are invited and welcomed to roll out these programs. In the second phase, we will hire full-time patient navigators for the Loretto Hospital and Norwegian Hospital who will conduct the community outreach and patient navigation. The programs will rely on these community navigators to reach more than 600 people living in these high-need areas and work directly in those communities to help remove barriers to obtaining an early cancer diagnosis. The final phase will involve more of a grass-roots approach. We will partner with a long-standing group, Project Brotherhood, which will help us develop relationships with local barbershops and beauty salons to help recruit individuals who are not up to date with their cancer screenings but are eligible to be screened. We are not only engaging the community but involving the community to provide outstanding work.

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Q: What is your ultimate hope for how the programs will help reduce cancer disparities in the Chicago area?

A: I hope these programs will make more people aware of the increased rates of cervical cancer and colorectal cancer in these areas and that this awareness will lead more people to be screened for these cancers. As a result of more screenings, we are hoping to identify people earlier on with these cancers that we can treat. The second hope is in the context of economic development. Hopefully this will have a snowball effect and lead to more hires and resources within the communities. Thirdly, we hope to generate more knowledge on how to screen more effectively and identify unforeseen barriers, and to overcome those barriers in a more effective and efficient way.

Q: Is there anything else that you would like to mention?

A: This is an effort to not only do well by these neighborhoods, but also toward economic development and skill building. This is truly a different type of model where we will go into these communities with a great sense of humility that we will learn with and from the community how to better serve the people in Chicago. – by Jennifer Southall

For more information:

Robert A. Winn, MD, can be reached at University of Illinois Cancer Center, 818 S. Wolcott Ave., Chicago, IL 60612; email: rwinn@uic.edu.

Disclosure: Winn reports no relevant financial disclosures.