Women often place a low priority on their own health needs especially when they don’t feel sick, which is typical in the early stages of cervical, uterine, vaginal, and vulvular cancers. Far too often, low-income women make sure that other family members’ health needs are addressed but do not get needed check-ups including annual mammograms and PAP tests.
WV Health Right’s Board of Directors feels so strongly about women’s health issues that in 1992 it adopted a policy requiring all age appropriate women to have an annual mammogram and PAP test in order to receive clinic services, including dental and pharmacy services. With the assistance of foundations and public health funds, WV Health Right currently provides free annual mammograms and PAP tests to more than 9,000 women. Of this number, approximately 300 women have abnormal Pap findings that require additional testing (in the form of follow-up PAPs, biopsy or colposcopy) and, for some, treatment is needed for cancer and other abnormalities. In 2008, the clinic began offering a new procedure, called LEEP. This cervical cancer treatment is a “shaving” of the cervix to remove cancer cells and is normally tried before a hysterectomy would be deemed medically necessary. The availability of this procedure on-site has reduced the delay from diagnosis to treatment from six months to two weeks! WV Health Right is the only source in a 34-county area in southern and central West Virginia where low-income women can receive additional testing at no charge.
For more than ten years, WV Health Right has received special recognition and awards from the WV Department of Health and Human Resources as the clinic that screens more patients for breast and cervical cancer than any other site in the state. In addition, WV Health Right screens the most women who have never been tested for breast and cervical cancer. The result: we catch cancer early!