HERMISTON — The Good Shepherd Health Care System is one of nine Oregon organizations to receive a grant from Oregon Health & Science University to address local cancer-related needs.
The OHSU Knight Cancer Institute’s Community Partnership Program awarded funding to Good Shepherd to help with a new project — one that aims to increase colorectal cancer screening rates.
In years past, Good Shepherd has sent out fecal occult blood test kits, a preliminary take-home test that aims to identify those at risk for colorectal cancer for those between 50 and 75. Once returned for lab tasting, these test kits help individuals. But Director of Community Health and Outreach Jessica Reker said returns have been low.
“The return rate on (the kits) was only about 10 to 15%,” she said.
With the test kits free of charge, Reker and the medical staff knew that cost wasn’t an issue. Instead, they needed patients to buy into the program. Part of that was shifting who provided information.
With the funding, patients now will learn about and receive FOBT kits from their primary care physician. Before, they learned from other medical providers that many patients may not have known.
“The patient-provider relationship is a very trusting relationship,” Reker said. “It just makes sense to utilize it.”
While the focus of the project is ultimately to lower late-stage colorectal cancer screening rates, the way Good Shepherd hopes to achieve that goal is to increase education on the matter. Using physicians that know the patient could ease tensions surrounding the subject, increasing education.
Along with education, Reker and Good Shepherd Community Health Educator Catherine Wisniewski know there are extra hurdles in Hermiston. With over a quarter of the city’s population having a Latino background, Good Shepherd is including bilingual test kits and interpreters.
“To ensure the approach is socially and culturally appropriate, GSHCS clinic partners have bilingual and bicultural staff available to assist with this initiative,” Wisniewski said in a press release.
Per the terms of the OHSU grant, Good Shepherd aims to have 60 FOBT kits returned and 120 individuals educated, but it’s shooting for higher numbers.
If those base numbers are realized, though, the program can continue long-term with funding from OHSU.
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