Help increase screening and prevention for colon & rectal cancer.


Grant Spotlight: El Rio Health and the Tucson Conquistadores

By February 27, 2023Featured Articles, Grants

At the Colon Cancer Coalition we work to improve health outcomes by reducing barriers to complete colorectal cancer screening. Part of our work centers on helping communities across the country increase screening rates. This is especially clear in the work we do with El Rio Health Center in Tucson.

For the past several years, the annual Caboose Cup Am-Am, part of the Cologuard Classic PGA Champions Tour, funds colorectal cancer screening for under and uninsured patients at El Rio.

Together with the Tucson Conquistadores we helped provide uninsured patients with needed colonoscopies after a  positive stool-based colorectal cancer screening.

In 2022 alone, 109 patients received financial support for consultations, colonoscopies, and diagnostics following a positive stool-based test. When asked about the grant’s impact, Dr. Lisa Soltani, Medical Director of Internal Medicine at El Rio Health stated:

Dr. Lisa Soltani, Medical Director of Internal Medicine at El Rio health in Tucson, Arizona, smiles at the camera. She has dark brown hair, brown eyes. Her shirt has a flowery red pattern and a blue backdrop.

Dr. Lisa Soltani, medical director of internal medicine at El Rio health in Tucson

“The donations we receive from Colon Cancer Coalition that cover the reduced cost of colonoscopy for our uninsured patients do more than offer the gift of improved health to these patients, who often have to choose between the cost of daily living and health care. In fact, they make it more likely that ALL our patients receive screening since providers no longer have to stop to consider insurance status when they are ordering potentially life-saving screening tests. These funds are essential for our uninsured patients, especially those fighting battles on many fronts. In primary health care, removing any barrier to standard of care means better care for all.”

When asked about the importance of partnership between organizations like the Colon Cancer Coalition and the Tucson Conquistadores, especially in connecting and reaching out to patients in need of screening, Brenda Goldsmith, executive director of the El Rio Health Foundation said:

“It is critical that we work together with partners like the Colon Cancer Coalition and the Tucson Conquistadores to help eliminate fears and barriers to care for the low-income, primarily minority people we serve at El Rio Health. Through the help [from the Coalition and Conquistadores], we outreached to 25,000+ people through social media, direct mail, patients charts and our clinics.”

One patient’s story in particular stands out to Goldsmith, who told us about Jose, a 61 year old uninsured patient given a free FIT/FOBT test at El Rio Health.

“Jose’s test came back positive, but because of his insurance status, he was worried about the cost of additional testing. Through the grant provided to El Rio, Jose’s colonoscopy was paid for in full, and fortunately came back normal. Jose and his family were relieved. El Rio was also able to assist him with additional needs, including gifting him a used electric wheelchair to help with mobility.”

By enabling health centers like El Rio to fund colonoscopies and FIT tests for uninsured patients, we help close healthcare gaps, and ensure patients like Jose have their healthcare needs met. We’re so grateful to our incredible grant partners at El Rio for the work they do to support patients, and to the incredible fundraising efforts by the Tucson Conquistadores to fund the El Rio grant.

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