Free cancer screening services launched in East Palo Alto

 

East Palo Alto on Wednesday launched the first round of a free mobile health screening clinic provided by Life Saving Images Inc. in an effort to save lives through early detection of major diseases.

The clinics are part of a five-year partnership between Life Saving Images Inc (LSI), a California-based radiology and software company, and the American Cancer Society. California is the first state to sign on to the initiative and East Palo Alto is the first city nationwide to launch the program.

The goal of the partnership is to increase screening rates for five major cancers – breast, colon, lung, skin and prostate – as well as heart disease and diabetes. The clinics will return every three months for the next five years, and LSI will track screening rates throughout.

From Nov. 6 to Nov. 9, 10am – 7pm, LSI will provide free screenings for diabetes and breast cancer at the Community Church of East Palo Alto located at 2201 University Avenue. They will also provide health assessments and schedule patients for the next mobile clinic in February 2020, which will screen for heart disease and lung cancer.

“Early detection saves lives,” said Holly Bachman, vice president of Marketing and Strategic Partnerships at LSI. “We don’t turn anyone away. We want everybody from every income level because health does not discriminate.”

East Palo Alto Councilman Larry Moody said that when LSI requested the city’s participation in the pilot program, it was a “no brainer” for him because “we have so many health disparities in our community: high rates of diabetes, obesity, cancer-related illnesses.”

“In communities of colors, this idea of getting testing is so much an afterthought,” said Moody.

On Nov. 6, the clinic launch got off to a quiet start. A small group of people attended the launch of the clinic: representatives from the city of East Palo Alto, LSI staff, Community Church members and a couple East Palo Alto residents.

The diabetes and blood pressure tests are set up beneath outdoor tents in the church parking lot, and health educators guide patients through the process individually, explaining the tests, results, and recommended next steps.

Behind the tents, large pink and red mobile units are stationed. On the outside, they look like buses, but inside each mobile unit, there is high-technology screening equipment.

During a tour of the breast cancer mobile unit, LSI health educator Yuri Fong said that the breast cancer screening would take less than ten minutes.

Then they send the images to radiologists, a letter to the patient and results to their primary care physician. From there, the patient can work with their physician to take next steps. In East Palo Alto, the Ravenswood Family Health Center is a primary care provider, which also offers screening mammography and refers patients to other diagnostic services as needed.

Moody said that the goal is to get residents in front of professional care, alleviate their anxiety over testing and help individuals realize the benefits of early detection.

“If someone says you might be a candidate for diabetes, it’s not the end of the game,” said Moody. “But it will cause you an opportunity to change your lifestyle.”

In addition to the screening services, the mobile clinic aims to provide education and awareness. Each major disease being screened throughout the program had its own tent, complete with flyers and fact sheets. Jim Drury, LSI CEO and founder, believes that education is key to getting people screened.

“The major message here is that early detection is very beneficial,” said Drury, who lost his father to a heart attack and his mother to leukemia. Three other family members also developed breast cancer, spurring his anger and passion to improve healthcare. “We want people to know this is about education and access.”

Drury said that people are not educated properly about the importance of early detection yet being screened for major health risks can empower patients. “You can take control of your health and there’s benefits to that: confidence, peace of mind and knowledge.”

With early detection, an individual can save the time, money and the disruption to their lives later on.

“All of our families somewhere directly or indirectly, have been touched by one of these diseases,” said Pastor Ervin Wilson of the Community Church of East Palo Alto. Wilson said that his grandmother had diabetes and had her leg amputated because of it. “She eventually had to die that way. But had she got early detection, she probably wouldn’t have had to have the amputation.”

Wilson thanked the city and LSI for the team effort with the American Cancer Society. He said their presence in the community speaks volumes for where they’re trying to go as a city in getting ahead of the curve and preventing diseases.

“I’m excited no matter what,” he said. “If we reach one person, if we can detect one early before it gets worse, I think it’s worth it.”

EPA Cancer screening flyer

This flyer encourages residents of East Palo Alto to attend a free health screening clinic provided through Life Saving Images Inc and the American Cancer Society. (Courtesy City of East Palo Alto Facebook Page)