Arkansas Cancer Coalition

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Awarded Competitive Grants – Fiscal Year 2023

Mainline Health Systems 

Program:  Operation Prevent and Detect 

Funding Amount:  $55,000.00 

Counties Served:  Ashley, Bradley, Chicot, Cleveland, Drew, Grant, Lincoln, Grant 

Focus Area(s):  Early Detection (Breast, Cervical, Colorectal)  

Grant Summary: Mainline Health Systems, Inc. (MHSI) will utilize technology capabilities within the electronic medical record (EMR) to send text message campaigns to assist with recalls of MHSI patients who are due for cervical, colorectal, and breast cancer screenings.  MHSI reached more patients by utilizing the texting campaigns available in the EMR throughout the last year.  The Chief Quality Officer will continue to provide updated monthly recall lists to the Quality Improvement Coordinators.  The Quality Improvement Coordinators will recall patients for preventative screenings monthly using the text message campaigns as detailed below.  

The Quality Improvement Coordinator will contact all female patients, age 23-64, who have not had a hysterectomy, and are due for a cervical cancer screening. MHSI currently has 2224 patients who are due for cervical screening. The goal of MHSI is to recall at least 50% of patients due by utilization of technology to help achieve a greater number of recalls sent and received by patients.  MHSI plans to also increase the percentage of patients screened for cervical cancer from 47% to 55% (350 patients). 

The Quality Improvement Coordinator will contact all female patients, age 50-69, who are in need of an annual breast cancer screening. MHSI currently has 1201 patients who are due for breast screening.  MHSI goal is to recall at least 50% of patients due by utilization of technology to help achieve a greater number of recalls sent and received by patients.   MHSI hopes to also increase the percentage of patients screened for breast cancer from 63% to 70% (250 patients). 

The Quality Improvement Coordinator will contact all patients, age 50-75, who have not had a colon screening completed recently.  MHSI currently has 3382 patients who are due for a colon screening.  MHSI goal is to recall at least 50% of patients due by utilization of technology to help achieve a greater number of recalls sent and received by patients.   MHSI hopes to also increase the percentage of patients screened for breast cancer from 46% to 55% (600 patients). 

MHSI will also continue to call and send letters to the patients who are unable to be reached via text message. 

CARTI Foundation 

Program:  Increasing Survivorship by Improving Access to Care for Cancer Patients

Funding Amount:  $55,000.00 

Counties Served:  Statewide 

Focus Area(s):  Survivorship 

Grant Summary:  CARTI believes in caring for patients as a whole, including their physical, emotional, and financial well-being. In an effort to reduce barriers and improve access to cancer care, CARTI provides transportation and housing assistance to patients who qualify. Patients who are low-income, uninsured and/or underinsured can benefit from assistance with van or cab transport, fuel and housing costs. Offsetting these expenses allows patients to continue their treatment regimen, giving them a greater chance of survivorship, which can impact public health in Arkansas and support the Arkansas Cancer Plan goals.  

Patient Service Specialists refer patients to Social Workers who assess needs through a Financial History Screening. Eligibility is based on income, family size and monthly expenses. Other considerations include outstanding medical bills and insurance. The eligibility process is fast and assistance is usually offered immediately.  

Fuel cards are provided to patients who cannot afford to travel to their treatment appointments. Van or cab transport, and rides through CareLink, are available to patients who do not or cannot drive. Transportation assistance is given to patients each week during treatment.  

The patients who will benefit are low-income, uninsured and/or underinsured, many of whom live in rural areas of the state. Providing assistance with transportation and housing gives patients a greater chance of survivorship, which can impact public health in Arkansas and support the Arkansas Cancer Plan. 

Home for Healing  

Program: Housing for Cancer Patients Receiving Treatment in Central Arkansas 

Funding Amount:  $35,000.00 

Counties Served:  Statewide

Focus Area(s):  Survivorship 

Grant Summary: The Home for Healing is a facility that provides safe, affordable lodging in a homelike setting for cancer patients receiving medical care at UAMS, CARTI, ACH teenage cancer patients, CHI St Vincent, Arkansas Surgical Hospital, Arkansas Urology, and any other facility that has a cancer patient in need. Guests are uninsured or underinsured and are referred to us by social workers utilizing SNAP guidelines.  The Home for Healing is also a cancer support center where education, fellowship, and support are found.  We serve patients from all over Arkansas. 

Serving those with the lowest survivor rates and the greatest barriers to care is one of our primary goals. We have all of our 10 available rooms to offer to our guests at a rate of $10 per night.  That fee is waived if the financial burden is too great.  These patients stay at the Home for Healing anywhere from a few days to several months.   

Actual costs for guests to stay are around $50 per night.  Rooms are cleaned, and our guests have access to our kitchens, laundry facility, and grounds.  Partnership with the ACC is needed to subsidize these costs so that more of our funds can go toward other programs (meals, support services, facility needs, etc.). 

Goodness Village 

Program:  Housing and Hope for Arkansas Cancer Patients and Survivors – Year 2 

Funding Amount:  $54,514.11

Counties Served:  Statewide 

Focus Area(s):  Survivorship 

Grant Summary: Goodness Village provides low-cost, fully furnished private apartments to cancer patients and their support system throughout the duration of their treatment at one of the medical facilities in Little Rock. We know that finding and securing temporary housing is an enormous financial and emotional burden on patients receiving treatment and their families supporting them. It often requires signing leases, paying security deposits, setting up utilities (which also often require deposits) and other processes that present additional costs during some of the most difficult moments of these families’ lives. Goodness Village reduces this financial and emotional stress by offering families fully furnished, one- and two-bedroom apartments close to the cancer treatment facilities. 

Our families pay a low rate of $55-70 per night (depending on number of bedrooms), saving thousands of dollars in short-term, long-term, and flexible-stay housing costs. These apartments are offered at a below market, affordable cost, with scholarships available, for as many nights as a family needs to stay. This helps patients from rural counties or with low incomes access cancer treatment and resources while staying together with their family. Our program reduces the financial burden of temporary housing costs and provides individualized assistance to the patient and their family to make sure they have the support they need while undergoing their treatment plan. 

Goodness Village builds a relationship with each family during their stay. Our staff understands how stressful this time is for a family, so we provide additional care to help them rest and recover from the stressful experience of treating cancer. Our Patient Navigator and Administrator work one-on-one with patients and their families to meet some additional needs during a family’s stay. This includes helping families find nearby grocery stores and restaurants with healthy food options, obtaining other medical services, and guiding the family though other needs they have while navigating an unfamiliar city. Goodness Village expects to house at least 70 Arkansas cancer patients for approximately 2,100 nights from July 2022 – June 2023. 

Reynolds Cancer Support House  

Program:  Surviving & Thriving 

Funding Amount:  $41,190.00

Counties Served:  Crawford, Franklin, Johnson, Logan, Polk, Scott, Sebastian, Yell 

Focus Area(s):  Survivorship/NUPA 

Grant Summary: The Donald W. Reynolds Cancer Support House requests funding for the SURVIVING AND THRIVING program. The SURVIVING AND THRIVING program will focus on providing improving Nutritional Support for cancer patients in treatment, Transportation Assistance for those struggling to get to and from treatment, and funding for the Patient Navigator who will oversee this program. It is our hope that this support will alleviate some of the stresses of the cancer journey and allow the patient to focus on surviving their cancer diagnosis and thriving in their survivorship. 

Transportation Assistance – Assisting cancer patients with their transportation needs during treatment has been a mission of The Support House since we were organized in 1978.  Fort Smith is surrounded by many rural communities and is the central hub for cancer treatment with two cancer treatment centers.   We also see many local patients referred for treatment to cancer treatment facilities outside of the River Valley. These two things pose issues for those patients who must travel sometimes daily for treatment depending on their treatment protocol.  Gas cards will be purchased and distributed for travel to and from treatment. 

Nutritional Support – Cancer patients often have a multitude of nutritional issues.   According to the American Cancer Society, when you’re healthy, eating enough food to get the nutrients and calories you need is not usually a problem. Most nutrition guidelines stress eating lots of vegetables, fruits, and whole-grain products; limiting the amount of red meat you eat, especially meats that are processed or high in fat; cutting back on fat, sugar, alcohol, and salt; and staying at a healthy weight. But when you’re being treated for cancer, these things can be hard to do, especially if you have side effects or just don’t feel well. Good nutrition is especially important if you have cancer because both the illness and its treatments can change the way you eat.   They can also affect the way your body tolerates certain foods and uses nutrients.   As a part of our Surviving and Thriving program, we will purchase protein-enriched nutritional support drinks, distribute healthy pre-cooked meals and fruit to cancer patients going through treatment. 

Physical Activity – The Support House will offer weekly yoga classes to cancer survivors.   

Patient Navigation – The Support House Patient Navigators are trained to provide compassionate care that removes or reduces the many barriers to care. Our programs focus on the patient’s psychological/emotional, social, physical, financial well-being with a of cost-free services and programs. We are committed to serving the patient – from diagnosis throughout their life. 

Education – The Support House will partner with area medical professionals and nutrition experts to provide education sessions throughout the year pertaining to nutrition in regard to cancer treatment and good nutrition in general. 

CARTI Cancer Center

Program:  Implementing a Lung Cancer Screening Program in Rural Arkansas: Low Dose CT and Beyond (A Pilot Project) 

Funding Amount:  $55,000.00 

Counties Served:  Statewide 

Focus Area(s):  Early Detection (Lung Cancer) 

Grant Summary:  This project is designed with two major overarching goals, 1) to implement a lung cancer screening program in the entire state or Arkansas, targeting specifically rural areas and the Red Counties (implementation goal), and 2) to assess the feasibility and validity of a simple blood-based screening test to identify lung cancer earlier than by imaging (Research goal). 

This project is intended to go through 1) Infrastructure Building, 2) Expansion and 3) Full deployment phases. The infrastructure building phase will be supported by this grant and will aim at developing a clinical and research team that covers the entire state and building strong relationships with our referral base of PCPs. During this phase 600 at-risk subjects will be screened for lung cancer (10% increase compared to last year), which brings the percentage of screened from 2.5% to 2.75%, and 10% of the screened will quit smoking. In parallel with the screening, we will offer the subjects to participate in a research project that will aim at detecting circulating tumor DNA and RNA (ctDNA/RNA) in the blood to generate a panel of genomic markers for earlier diagnosis than with LDCT (discovery phase).  

During the expansion phase (year two) the screening activity will be handed over to the permanent screening staff that we will have trained. Twice as many subjects will be screened (1200; 3% of the target population). Smoking cessation will double to 20% of those screened. During the full deployment phase, we will be able to screen up to 6,000 subjects (5% of the population at-risk) and increase the percentage of smoking cessation to 30%. The validation of the genomic markers will happen during these phases with the support of future grants. 

University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences 

Program:  Increasing Awareness for Lung Cancer Screening 

Funding Amount:  $55,000.00 

Counties Served:  Arkansas, Ashley, Bradley, Calhoun, Chicot, Clay, Cleveland, Columbia, Conway, Craighead, Dallas, Desha, Faulkner, Grant, Greene, Independence, Jackson, Jefferson, Lafayette, Lawrence, Lonoke, Miller, Mississippi, Monroe, Nevada, Ouachita, Perry, Phillips, Poinsett, Pope, Prairie, Pulaski, Randolph, Sebastian, Sharp, Union, Washington, Woodruff, Yell 

Focus Area(s):  Early Detection (Lung Cancer)  

Grant Summary:  Low-dose spiral computed topography (LDCT) is an accurate screening tool used to establish a baseline to assess current or asymptomatic lung cancer at the earliest most treatable stage. According to the 2021 American Lung Association’s State of Lung Cancer Report, only four (4) percent of high-risk Arkansans received a baseline screening, compared to the national rate of six (6) percent. An estimated 2,970 Arkansans will receive lung cancer diagnoses this year. Most will be late-stage cancers with a low five-year survival rate of twenty-one (21) percent, compared to twenty-four (24) percent nationally.  Smoking is directly accountable for more than ninety (90) percent of diagnosed lung cancers. Advancing age, cumulative exposure to tobacco smoke, lack of access to screening sites, and lack of knowledge of screening benefits, eligibility requirements and affordability are all factors contributing to these alarming statistics.    

New USPSTF 2021 guidelines increased eligibility requirements to allow greater access for high-risk individuals.  This boosted the UAMS screening opportunities, and 655 eligible adults received low-dose CT’s. Of that number, seven (7) were referred for treatment by the UAMS Lung Cancer Oncology Team. All those screened received a 15-minute tobacco cessation or relapse prevention intervention and offered quit smoking help via referral to the Arkansas Be Well Tobacco Quit Line. Upon review of the Low Dose CT Lung Cancer registry, it was determined that the majority of those screened lived within a fifty-mile radius of the UAMS Little Rock screening site.    

It is imperative that lung cancer awareness, screening opportunities and preventive services expand beyond the current service area to meet the goal to reduce lung cancer deaths by increasing screening rates in high-risk populations and counties. Funds from the Arkansas Cancer Coalition Grant will allow us to continue to expand services in the thirty-eight (39) high risk counties, grow the number of community partners advocating for screenings and increase the number of healthcare providers sending patients for low dose CT’s. Plans include: 1) collaboration with the UAMS MammoVan mobile unit to travel to community screening events, 2) initiate a Low Dose CT Awareness Project with the UAMS Regional Programs Family Medicine Clinics, the federally funded Community Health Centers and regional hospitals offering LDCT’s and 3) recruit community partners to assist with screening campaigns and distribution of project materials.  

The measurable objectives are:   

  • Seventy-five (75) eligible candidates scheduled for low dose CT screenings and tobacco cessation consultations via MammoVan community screening events.  
  • Two hundred (200) eligible adults referred for low dose CT screenings via the Health Care Provider Awareness Project.  
  • Three hundred (300) tobacco cessation consultations provided for eligible LDCT candidates.   
  • Ten (10) new community organization/coalition partnerships established.   
  • Eight (8) Health Care Provider LDCT Awareness Projects implemented. 

Arkansas Immunization Action Coalition

Program: HPV Prevention and Vaccine Acceptance  

Funding Amount:  $55,000.00 

Counties Served:  Statewide

Focus Area(s):  CervicalCancer

Grant Summary: With allotted ACC funding, AIAC  will 1.) pay an HPV coordinator to convene and facilitate a statewide HPV prevention workgroup as an ongoing function, and continue to monitor HPV activities around the state through the workgroup to reduce duplicative efforts, 2.) continue to support unique and practical statewide healthcare provider and community education, 3.) establish a pool of funds that the HPV prevention workgroup could use to complete projects in support of the HPV vaccination objectives, and 4.)host a summit with an HPV focus.