A $37,500 grant from the Colon Cancer Coalition will help Boston Health Care for the Homeless Program (BHCHP) improve colon cancer screening and detection for its patients. The Boston Health Care for the Homeless Program was founded in 1985. Since that time, BHCHP has evolved into the largest and most comprehensive health care for the homeless program in the country, delivering services to more than 12,000 homeless men, women and children a year at more than 80 shelters and sites.
The grant will be used for a variety of activities, including patient and provider education, motel and transportation costs associated with colonoscopies, and an alternative screening process —fecal immunochemical test or FIT— that is less difficult for patients to prepare for.
“Trying to follow a special diet when you’re eating in shelters and going through the evacuation process when you don’t have your own home is extremely difficult,” said BHCHP physician Greg Wagoner, MD. “As a result, only 21% of BHCHP patients who are eligible to have colonoscopies have them. This grant will ensure that more patients get screened and understand its importance.”
Homeless and overdue for a colonoscopy, patient Johnnie Kindell was able to prepare for the procedure by staying overnight at BHCHP’s medical respite facility. His colonoscopy detected cancer, and he was successfully operated on. “I didn’t even know I was sick,” said Kindell, 57. “They took the cancer out and I feel good, knock on wood.”
Money for this grant was raised during the 2012 Get Your Rear in Gear 5K Run/Walk in Boston. “We are humbled by the support we receive each year from the Boston community,” said Brian Shelly, co-chair for Get Your Rear in Gear – Boston. “We are glad the funds from this event will help Bostonians in need receive the required screenings for colon cancer, a preventable and treatable disease.” The 2013 Get Your Rear in Gear 5K Run/Walk in Boston begins at 9:15 a.m. on Sunday, November 3 at DCR Mother’s Rest at Carson Beach. The Kids’ Fun Run begins at 9 a.m.