ALBANY – Albany cancer care providers join the Georgia Center for Oncology Research and Education in being awarded a five-year grant from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention in the amount of $795,560 per year to provide colorectal screening, education, navigation and colonoscopies to 15,000 Georgians. Georgia CORE will provide administrative and fiscal oversight for the program, and the services will be provided by Augusta University and three cancer care providers in the Albany area: Albany Area Primary Care, Horizons Community Solutions, and Phoebe Putney Health System, as well as designated Federally Qualified Health Centers (FQHC) throughout southeast and southwest Georgia.

“Georgia CORE works to leverage state and federal dollars to advance cancer care for all Georgians, and data show that rural and African American residents have higher incidence and mortality rates from colorectal cancer,” Nancy M. Paris, president and CEO of Georgia CORE, said. “With our national health care system currently being overtaxed, this opportunity couldn’t have been more timely. The CDC grant will support essential cancer education, screening and navigation services for those Georgians who need it the most, and we will save lives.”

Colorectal cancer is the second-leading cancer killer in Georgia, according to the Georgia Department of Public Health, but also one of the state’s five most preventable. The defined patient population who will receive these free prevention services through the CDC grant are between the ages of 50 and 75, below the federal poverty level, ineligible for Medicaid, Medicare or ACA and receive care in one of the FQHCs.

“With a state incidence rate that exceeds the national average, we know we have to be more aggressive with our prevention measures for colorectal cancer, particularly in rural Georgia where screenings are less common,” Dr. James A. Hotz with Albany Area Primary Health Care said.

Horizons is one of five regional cancer coalitions in the state and their Colon Cancer Screening Program has been recognized as a Research Tested Intervention Program by the National Cancer Institute.

“Horizon’s partnership with Phoebe and Albany Area Primary Health Care utilizes evidence-based initiatives that have proven to increase screening rates. Expanding partnerships through the CDC grant will have life-saving results in Georgia,” said Cynthia George, the CEO of Horizons Community Solutions.

“With a vision to make every life we touch better, providing community health education and preventive screenings helps Phoebe live up to that vision and enables us to build healthier and more vibrant communities,” Scott Steiner, president and CEO of Phoebe Putney Health System, said. “Our partnership with Albany Area Primary Health Care and Horizons Community Solutions has been exceedingly successful in preventing and discovering colon cancer and providing lifesaving treatment for many patients in southwest Georgia, and we look forward to continuing this outstanding program that is a model for prevention in Georgia.”

“Georgia CORE has a strong, long-standing partnership with cancer care providers in the Albany area, having worked with us for the Georgia Cancer Control Consortium and Colorectal Cancer Roundtable,” Hotz said.

Published by Georgia CORE earlier this year, a report — 5 Actions to Save More Lives — cites that in the late 1990s, only-half of Georgians 50 and older were screened for colorectal cancer. That rate is now 66%, while the Healthy People 2020 target goal is 85%. If Georgia were to reach this goal, a projected 8,800 lives would be saved, and health care costs would lower by $1.3 billion.

The Georgia Center for Oncology Research and Education was created in 2010 to serve as a catalyst for strengthening Georgia’s national leadership in cancer care and research. Advancing cancer care through partnerships and innovation, Georgia CORE’s statewide network connects cancer care providers, leaders, and advocates to improve the quality of care for patients and quality of life for survivors.

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