Caring Hands free women's exams continue

JAMES BEATY | Staff photoMcAlester Mayor John Browne, right, holds a proclamation with Caring Hands CEO Sharon Hall, center, declaring October as Breast Cancer Awareness Month in McAlester, as they are joined by Police Chief Gary Wansick, left. Caring Hands continues to take appointments for free Women's Wellness visits through Oct. 31.

Caring Hands Healthcare Centers is continuing to take appointments for free Women’s Wellness visits through October 31, offering to schedule visits for next month if necessary.

Women wanting to utilize the free services need to make arrangements to do so by Thursday — but that doesn’t mean free examinations conclude at the end of the month.

“If they call and their appointment is scheduled by the 31st, they can get an appointment in November,” Caring Hands Chief Financial Officer Felicia Belvin said Monday.

The free Women’s Wellness Clinic includes a breast exam, with a mammogram referral, if needed; a pap test with HPV testing, if needed; testing and education of sexually-transmitted infections and an HPV vaccine, if needed. Some restrictions may apply, according to Caring Hands.

A mammogram will not be conducted on-site, but will be referred to another medical facility if it’s necessary.

“We have a program that helps pay for them” if the patient cannot pay for a mammogram, said Belvin.

Caring Hands has three Pittsburg County locations, with two in McAlester and another in Hartshorne.

Belvin said the examinations can be conducted at any one of the three facilities, but the number to phone to make an appointment at any of the three is (918) 426-2442.

“We can schedule for any location,” she said.

Caring Hands has its full-service office in McAlester at 3101 Elks Rd. A second Caring Hands site in McAlester is at 721 S. George Nigh Expressway, Suite 1, in what is known at the Heart Building, Belvin said.

The Caring Hands facility in Hartshorne is now at 1429 Penn. Ave., in the building that formerly housed the Veterans Administration Clinic.

Sixty women have already made a free Women’s Wellness’ visit to Caring hands so far in October, Belvin said.

The free Women’s Wellness Visits were made possible when Caring Hands obtained a Title 10 Family Planning grant, she said. Also, a program for teens is set up so a teenager can walk in without an appointment and be seen from 1 p.m. to 6 p.m. on Wednesdays at the full-service Caring Hands facility on Elks Road, said Belvin.

“We are a Federally Qualified Health Center,” Belvin said. While the Well Women Heath Check is being provided free during the month of October, patients or their insurance normally pay on a sliding scale for services offered at Caring Hands, based on income, said Belvin.

Caring Hands Healthcare Centers Chief Executive Officer Sharon Hall joined Mayor John Browne at City Hall for the signing of a proclamation declaring October as Breast Cancer Awareness Month in McAlester.

Browne said that this year approximately 271,270 people will be diagnosed with invasive breast cancer in the U.S., with more than 42,260 expected to die from the illness.

“Besides skin cancer, breast cancer is the most commonly-diagnosed cancer among American women,” Browne said, adding it is second only to lung cancer as a cause of cancer death overall among American women.

A woman living in the U.S. has a one-in-eight lifetime risk of being diagnosed with breast cancer and men have a one-in-833 lifetime risk of getting breast cancer, Browne said.

When breast cancer strikes, it often impacts a family in all areas of their life, especially monetarily, they mayor said.

By offering the free exams and referrals that can lead to more services, Caring Hands is hoping to help reduce the monetary impact to those who are diagnosed with the illness, as well as detect any signs of illness as soon as possible.

Contact James Beaty at jbeaty@mcalesternews.com

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