Cervical Cancer Prevention Program Announced

Jan 21, 2016

Cervical Cancer is easily preventable, but many people don’t have access to the vaccine or fail to finish the three-shot vaccination process.

St. Joseph’s/Candler today announced a ground-breaking program to ensure that uninsured patients receive the HPV vaccine in order to protect them from potentially contracting cervical cancer.

HPV-Announcement“Cervical cancer is preventable with a vaccine,” said Paul P. Hinchey, President & CEO of St. Joseph’s/Candler. “But there are people who are slipping through the cracks and not finishing the three vaccine doses, leaving them at risk. St. Joseph’s/Candler today is embarking on a mission to help them. Whenever we can prevent something as terrible as cancer with something as simple as a vaccine, we feel compelled to do so.”

The program will begin at St. Joseph’s/Candler’s St. Mary’s Health Center and soon expand to the Good Samaritan Clinic. Both health centers provide free health care to uninsured patients who don’t qualify for Medicaid.

The St. Joseph’s/Candler Foundations have dedicated $50,000 to this important new program. At a price of more than $150 per dose, that would cover about 110 women.

“I hope that other companies in Savannah will consider funding such programs for our community and help us eradicate a diseases that is for the most part, preventable, “ said Paul P. Hinchey, President and CEO. ““Many people are not aware of the connection between the HPV virus and cervical cancer. It doesn’t get as much attention as many other diseases. But that doesn’t mean that it is any less important. Get the shots. It’s that simple. But if someone is uninsured, it’s not that simple.“

It is the mission of St. Joseph’s/Candler to treat illness and promote wellness for all people. We believe that just because one doesn’t currently have health insurance shouldn’t mean they should face the risk of disease.

Vaccines to inoculate the Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) have been around for about 10 years and have been proven to be very successful in preventing cervical cancer. However the problem has become that the vaccine is costly and uninsured patients may not have access to the vaccine or they may start the three-shot series, but not finish.

This can leave the patient exposed. In Georgia between 2008 and 2013, 28 percent of women who develop cervical cancer died from the disease. Cervical cancer can be difficult to treat because it doesn’t have symptoms until the disease is very advanced.

The Centers for Disease Control recommends that both girls and boys get vaccinated between 11 and 12. But nationwide, 4 out of 10 girls are unvaccinated and 6 out of 10 boys are unvaccinated.

Additionally, only about 27 percent of 17- to 18-year-olds who started the three-shot vaccine completed it.

Most insurance companies cover the vaccine. But through this new program, uninsured patients who did not receive or did not finish the vaccine before turning 18 will now have access to the vaccine through St. Mary’s Health Center. This is the gap that St. Joseph’s/Candler seeks to close.

What is HPV?

HPV is actually a group of viruses and some can lead to cancer of the genital areas. It is transmitted by skin-to-skin contact and is the most common sexually transmitted infection. About 79 million Americans are currently infected with HPV.

HPV is the cause of nearly all cervical cancers. While cervical cancer is the common HPV cancer, it is not the only one. Men can develop penile or anal cancer because of the virus. It can also cause vulvar cancer and vaginal cancer as well as cancer of the head and neck.

Every year about 11,000 women are diagnosed with cervical cancer and about 4,400 of those will die.

There are three vaccines approved by the Food and Drug Administration. Each is a three-dose series. The vaccine can be started at age 9.

About The St. Joseph’s/Candler St. Mary’s Health Center

The St. Joseph’s/Candler St. Mary’s Health Center is part of the system’s robust community outreach. The center treats uninsured patients who do not qualify for Medicaid. It began in 2000, with simple health screens like blood-pressure checks at the St. Mary's Community Center in the Cuyler-Brownville neighborhood. The demand was so great that a bigger space was need and in 2008 the health center moved to a more central location on Drayton Street with 3,600 square feet. SJ/C physicians volunteer their time and the nurses work to find affordable or free medications.

1302 Drayton Street
Appointments: 912-443-9409

About The St. Joseph’s/Candler Good Samaritan Clinic

In 2007 the Good Samaritan Clinic opened in Garden City to serve the growing number of patients on Chatham County’s westside who did not have insurance. The staff at the Good Samaritan Clinic is comprised of volunteer doctors, nurses, nurse practitioners, medical interpreters and clerical workers. Each staff member is trained to provide quality healthcare to patients.

4704 Augusta Road
Garden City, GA 31408


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