FULTON — Carolyn Handville, program coordinator for Oswego County Opportunities (OCO) Cancer Services of the North Country has announced that the program was recently awarded a five year grant from the New York State Department of Health (NYSDOH) allowing the program to continuing to offer its services in the north country.

“For the past 15 years we have been providing a wide array of cancer prevention services such as clinical breast exams, mammograms, pap/pelvic exams and colon cancer screenings for uninsured men and women aged 40-64 in Oswego County,” said Handville. “In the fall of 2018 the OCO Cancer Services program expanded their region and renamed the program to the Cancer Services Program of the North Country. Since that time we have increased our number of providers from 25 to over 100 and expanded the reach of our services to include not only Oswego County but, Lewis, Jefferson, and St. Lawrence counties as well.”

Handville added that the goal of the partnership was to increase the percentage of adults receiving mammograms, pap and pelvic exams, and colorectal screenings regardless of their insurance status. There is also a focus on improving the cancer screening process for all consumers.

To enable greater program’s success, we have hired staff so that they may serve even more individuals. Joining the program’s staff are Heather Bergman as a program assistant and Shea Verdile as an outreach worker.

Bergman, a graduate of SUNY Oswego with a degree in business, previously worked for OCO Reproductive Services. She has extensive experience with healthcare software and has worked as a medical secretary. As a program assistant Bergman will be screening intakes, confirming eligibility, scheduling appointments, and maintaining databases regarding exam results, medical history, and eligibility incomes. “The amount of help we can provide for uninsured and underinsured individuals is astounding,” said Bergman. “From insight and education to potentially life-saving screenings are all available through OCO’s Cancer Services Program of the North Country.”

Verdile, a former direct service provider with OCO’s Residential Services, will be handling the Cancer Services’ outreach efforts in St. Lawrence and Lewis counties as well as conducting case management. She will be conducting educational sessions at libraries and schools as well as serving as a guest speaker for organizations and groups interested in learning more about the Cancer Services Program. “As a cancer survivor, being a part of this program is important to me,” said Verdile. “We want to reach out to women that have never or rarely been screened and educate men on the importance of screening for colon cancer. Screenings provide an opportunity for early detection, which may lesson pain or suffering and potentially save lives.”

Bergman and Verdile are welcome additions to a staff that now serves hundreds of people in four counties. It’s a challenging task, but one that OCO Cancer Services is prepared to handle.

“We’re happy to have been selected for this grant,” said Handville. “The opportunity to work with additional healthcare systems and dozens of providers is exciting. We will continue to maintain close working relationships with our providers and support their efforts to increase the percentage of their patients that obtain annual cancer screenings.”

“The Cancer Services Program of the North Country has had a profound effect on health of families and individuals in Oswego, Lewis, Jefferson and St. Lawrence counties,” continued Handville. “Clinical breast exams, mammograms, colorectal cancer screenings, and pap/pelvic exams are essential to good health. We are excited to have the opportunity to continue offering potentially life-saving cancer screenings free of charge to even more uninsured men and women in Oswego County and throughout the North Country.”

Check the website for updates on program schedules and community resources to help: https://www.oco.org/covid-19-updates Call the hotline 1-877-342-7618 9 a.m.–5 p.m. Monday through Friday for assistance with basic needs.

Johnson Newspapers 7.1

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