ALBANY — The Healthcare Georgia Foundation recently presented the Joseph D. Greene Community Service Award to four individuals and one collaborative as recognition for their contribution to improving health care in Georgia.
This year, that collaborative was Cancer Coalition of South Georgia.
Per information provided by the Healthcare Georgia Foundation, the award is meant to honor “extraordinary individuals and nonprofit organizations that are committed to improving the health and healthcare of those they serve.” It is named for a founding Healthcare Georgia Foundation board member and public leader who succumbed to cancer in 2007.
Community and clinic volunteers and leaders as well as health, patient and marketplace navigators and community health workers and promoters are among those generally considered for recognition. A collaborative, defined as an entity comprised of three or more health-related Georgia non-profit organizations, is deemed eligible to receive the award when they actively work together, represent partnership models working towards promising practices and results, show initiative and a commitment to addressing health-related needs of the community, demonstrate that the collaborative effort has been effective in improving the health of a Georgia community and reflect diversity in its membership, the foundation says.
“It’s a wonderful honor,” said Denise Ballard, vice president of cancer prevention and control for the coalition. “(It is) to recognize there are hospitals and community centers that have come together (to battle) the problem of cancer in Southwest Georgia … (that have) ignored competition to solve this problem.”
One of the highlights that likely helped the coalition stand out, Ballard said, was its community cancer screening program, which functions as a resource to patients by navigating them through the physical and emotional barriers — including education, transportation and screening materials they may need at home — so they are provided with whatever they need to ensure early detection is achieved. In order to do this, it connects with various entities throughout the region including the cancer centers located within the Cancer Coalition’s coverage area.
“I think what made us stand out is the strength of the partnership,” Ballard said. ” … Hospitals have dedicated actual resources. These providers really put value and beliefs to work.”
She also said that, following receipt of this award, one of the major priorities of the Cancer Coalition going forward will be to prevent late-stage disease detection — specifically through more grant funding later on down the road.
“That’s been the cornerstone of our organization, to prevent cancer — and finding it early is the No. 1 priority,” Ballard said. “The award helps us move forward. There are 900 patients we screen every year, but we could be doing three times as much.
“I think it will help increase visibility … After seven years, it’s really nice to be recognized for the hard work our providers do. It makes us want to help more.”
The individual recipients of the award were Anne Boriskie, director of the Brain Injury Peer Visitor Association in John’s Creek, Anne Clifton, medical coordinator for the Hearts and Hands Clinic in Statesboro, Ho Su Kim, volunteer with the Center for Pan Asian Community Services in Chamblee and Jobeth Yarbrough, volunteer director for the Good Samaritan Health and Wellness Center in Jasper. They, along with the Cancer Coalition, were honored at a special ceremony at the InterContinental Buckhead Atlanta at a grantee and partner conference for the foundation last week.