Clarksville, TN – Five years ago, Dr. Patty Orr, Austin Peay State University professor of nursing, and Joey Smith, director of the Montgomery County Health Department, made an unsettling discovery.
After looking into incidents of breast cancer in this area, they discovered that the mortality rate was disproportionately higher among women from traditionally under served populations.
“We surveyed the data, and it was really bad in Montgomery County for under served populations,” Orr, who also occupies the APSU Lenora C. Reuther Chair of Excellence in Nursing, said. “They were being diagnosed when it had progressed too far.”
Those findings prompted Orr and Smith to submit a grant proposal to the Greater Nashville Affiliate of Susan G. Komen for the Cure to help fund breast health education and services to under served populations in this community. For the fifth year in a row, the Nashville Komen affiliate has awarded the grant to the two organizations, providing more than $200,000 in that time for free mammograms and breast exams.
Last year, a local woman heard about the program and went to the Montgomery County Health Department, at 330 Pageant Lane, for more information.
“We were able to catch something early and send the patient to diagnostics and get early intervention,” Smith said. “We know that early intervention improves the survival rate. We know that this is not just improving health, but it’s saving lives.”
This year, the Nashville Komen affiliate presented Orr and Smith with a $42,930 grant. Some of that money is actually raised by APSU nursing students during Breast Health Month each fall.
“Last October, we had 30 students get donations to participate in the Race for the Cure,” Orr said. “And our faculty are very supportive of it also.”
Women who are uninsured, 40 years old or older and interested in a free mammogram and breast exams need to contact the Montgomery County Health Department at 931.648.5747.