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UCHealth’s northern oncology program receives $56,000 Komen grant to help breast cancer patients receive treatment

Media contact: Dave Rizzotto | 970.237.7105 |

UCHealth's northern oncology program receives $56,000 Komen grant to help breast cancer patients receive treatment

University of Colorado Health's northern oncology program received a $56,496 Komen for the Cure grant to provide financial assistance to patients with breast cancer. The program improves access to life-saving treatment for underinsured or uninsured patients in Larimer and Weld counties.

Patients who meet financial eligibility requirements are assisted with out-of–pocket costs for treatment such as co-pays, prescription drugs, chemotherapy, radiation or surgery costs.

Poudre Valley Hospital, part of UCHealth, runs the program. It estimates that 25 community members will receive treatment assistance through this grant during the 2013-14 funding year.

Denver Metropolitan Affiliate of Susan G Komen for the Cure® has been a longstanding partner of the UCHealth's cancer program in northern Colorado. Komen has given over $800,000 to patient navigator, treatment and clinic trial programs over the past seven years. Hundreds of patients have been helped.

"This financial assistance program was developed to reduce barriers to treatment so patients will be more likely to complete life-saving treatment," said JoAnn Lovins, director of the oncology service line at UCHealth North. "It complements our cancer navigation program. Our specially-trained nurse navigators help patients understand their treatment options and find access to resources."

The navigator services are free to community members affected by any type of cancer.

Access to health care for patients in northern Colorado is limited by income and education according to a report from the Larimer County Department of Human Services and the United Way. The U.S. Census Bureau reports that over 15 percent of residents in Larimer and Weld counties were uninsured in 2009. About one in eight women in the US will develop invasive breast cancer during their lifetime states the American Cancer Society.

"Not having insurance or any money were major concerns," said Charlee Schafman, a grant recipient. She was diagnosed with Stage 1 breast cancer at the Breast Diagnostic Center in Fort Collins. "I feel blessed that I had early detection and blessed for this grant," said Schafman. "It made it possible for me not to worry about paying for treatment."

Schafman recently had her six-month check-up. She is cancer-free. "The nurses at Poudre Valley are very professional and very compassionate. They took really good care of me."

"We're so grateful for Komen's continued support," said Shelley Nielsen, supervisor of UCHealth's navigation program who accepted the grant in April. "This grant helps us serve as many patients as possible," said Nielsen, an oncology nurse.

UCHealth North also received the 2013 Karen Hornbostel award for $1,000. The award was created in honor of Karen Hornbostel, a four-time breast cancer survivor, for organizations that are committed to saving lives.

UCHealth is a model grantee, " said Michele Ostrander, executive director at Komen Denver. "Its foundation and cancer program uses creativity, ingenuity and any and all resources available to reduce the cost of services so that more women and men can be helped with Komen funds."

Patients learn about the financial assistance through the navigator program. Patients are referred through UCHealth's Breast Diagnostic Centers in Fort Collins, Loveland and Greeley, physicians and organizations affiliated with the Larimer and Weld County Women's Health Consortiums.

"Our patient navigator program has emerged as a leading example of the integrated support services that patients and their families need most," said Lovins.

To learn more about the patient navigation program, visit

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