HUDSON — Organizations and residents of the community surrounding Bliss Towers are working hand-in-hand to inform members of the community about the health resources available to them.
They also stressed the need to get screened for breast and colon cancer.
The Women’s Health Project and the Columbia County Community Healthcare Consortium’s Cancer Services Program cooperatively held an event at Bliss Towers on Thursday from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. to inform people of the importance of getting tested for colon cancer, the resources available to them and to hand out home screening kits.
“It is important to inform people in this community of the health resources available to them in the community, especially in an under served community such as this,” said Janette Johnson, director of Outreach for the Women’s Health Project in Hudson.
Representatives of the Healthcare Consortium said the turn out for the event was good.
“We have talked to 15 people about colon cancer and handed our three kits,” said Darcy Connor, with the Cancer Services Program through the Healthcare Consortium. “Our goal is to get 80 percent of the eligible population [people 50 years or older] screened.”
The home screening kits will test stool samples for blood and if a person’s sample tests positive for blood he or she can get a free professional screening with funding from the State Department of Health.
“Blood may indicate there is a polyp,” Connor said. “If someone tests positive for cancer they can then receive free cancer treatment until they turn 65 years old.”
The Women’s Health Project is a program run through SUNY Albany started in 2009 with a National Institutes of Health grant, and that now receives support from several organizations including the Dyson Foundation and the Hudson River Bank and Trust Co. Foundation.
The Project, which has an office in Bliss Towers, holds events such as Thursday’s event throughout the city once a month.
The organization employees the services of members of the community, who the organization call Peer Health Advocates, to reach out to other members of the community about events.
“I do this because it is important for people of the community to know the resources available to them,” said Maria Hansberry, a peer health advocate. “A lot of these resources are funded through grants and government funding. So if these resources are not utilized, they will disappear.”
Hansberry stressed how important it is to reach people.
“Even if we reach one person that is a great help, because that is one person who knows another person who they can inform too,” she said. “Word of mouth spreads quick here and it is not just bad things it is the good things in the community also.”
The organization does outreach once a week around at several locations in the city.
“Bliss Towers is our home base, but we reach out at other locations such as the Hudson Terrace and the Fourth Street Park,” said Annis Golden, director of the Women’s Health Project.
Golden, who is also an associate professor of communications at SUNY Albany said the program hosts Ladies Night Out events when the program transports eight to 10 women who sign up, using the Healthcare Consortium’s transportation resources, to Columbia Memorial Hospital for mammograms.
“We make it like a party,” Golden said. “We support the women too because a lot of people may be nervous about getting tested.”
The project also partners with Hudson River Healthcare and Upper Hudson Planned Parenthood to provide a Well Women event to give women their annual wellness exams for free.
“[CMH] is very good about supporting us,” Golden said.
The Healthcare Consortium and with the Women’s Health Project will also offer free breast cancer screenings on Oct. 17 for Columbia County residents and Oct. 12 for Greene County residents at their locations in both counties.
“We will do the screenings free with or without insurance from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m.,” Golden said. “We will also provide transportation, because often that is a barrier for people to get tested. We just ask they get a script from a doctor first.”
A list of services provided by the Healthcare Consortium can be found on its website http://www.columbiahealthnet.org/.