Breast Cancer Navigators at FoundCare Help Palm Beach County Patients Through Difficult Diagnoses

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FoundCare, Inc., a federally qualified health care center serving more than 15,000 local residents each year, was recently awarded $80,000 by the Promise Fund of Florida to pilot an innovative program designed to help people with breast and cervical cancer access critical services. The program will cover the spectrum of care – from providing education about breast and cervical cancer and linking people at risk to screenings such as mammograms and PAP smears, to helping those diagnosed with cancer identify the best resources to facilitate their treatment and meet other daily needs.

“One of the largest challenges faced when getting a diagnosis of cancer is not even knowing where to turn for assistance,” said FoundCare CEO Yolette Bonnet. “The Promise Fund has recognized this need in our community, and our navigators will be ready to help guide and support patients through the process of accessing care and other services.”

FoundCare is working with existing patients who receive their primary care through FoundCare’s two locations in central West Palm Beach and North Palm Beach. According to Bonnet, many women at risk for breast and cervical cancer often come to FoundCare without a history of prior routine screenings, so they need to be referred for these services. Those diagnosed will receive follow-up services, as well as resources for such assistance as transportation to medical treatment and access to financial assistance for rent, food and other needs that can be strained by a cancer diagnosis. As a pilot program, FoundCare will work closely with the Promise Fund to collect data to document the services provided and document the large need for services, especially for those who are uninsured.

One of the navigators is Sagine Lhermite, a medical case manager for FoundCare for the past 16 years. A breast cancer survivor herself, Lhermite is now in remission and says she is thrilled for the chance to provide support to others faced with the same diagnosis.

“For me, it was the financial barrier and for the local Haitian community, the language barrier may also be an issue,” says Lhermite, who is Haitian-American and speaks English, French and Creole. “I had many doctor visits, which meant I had to pay my copay almost every week. I was blessed to have a navigator through my insurance who helped me fight, helped pay my rent so I could pay my copays, the water bill, and the electric bill. Resources pointed me in the right direction, but after chemo, I wasn’t even able to talk to people because I was so tired. You don’t have the strength to do it by yourself, and a navigator helps. If I can be a help to someone, I would love to be able to give back in the way I was helped.”

FoundCare’s other navigators include Laura Friedman, Orquidea Acevedo, and Xiomara Herrera. This diverse team of women are able to assist Spanish, Creole, and English speakers and they have extensive experience in helping both insured and uninsured women navigate what can often be a very confusing and complex health services delivery system.

Nancy Brinker, one of the founders of the Promise Fund, notes that Florida ranks among the lowest states in the nation for cancer prevention and treatment. The Cancer Action Network, the advocacy arm of the American Cancer Society, recently announced Florida hadn’t met any of the Network’s eight benchmarks for preventing and treating cancer – and that efforts like FoundCare’s navigator program could help improve those statistics.

“We know there is a critical need to improve both screenings for cancer as well as helping those diagnosed take the next steps for optimal care,” said Bonnet. “We believe FoundCare will be an important part of ensuring more people get the appropriate care and find the resources they need throughout their treatment to have the best possible outcomes.”
In 2018, FoundCare served more than 15,000 patients at its six Palm Beach County locations. Of those patients reporting their incomes, more than 80 percent are living at or below 200 percent of the federal poverty level. More than half were either covered by Medicaid or had no health insurance at all. FoundCare uses a sliding-fee scale based on household size and income, and no one is turned away for inability to pay for services.
To meet its mission of fulfilling unmet healthcare and social service needs of individuals and families, FoundCare offers pediatrics, adult medicine, chronic disease management, behavioral health services, dentistry, laboratory work and X-rays, and an on-site pharmacy – all as a one-stop shop at its West Palm Beach location.

FoundCare, Inc. accepts most insurance plans, Medicaid, Medicare and self-pay is based on income and family size. FoundCare has been named a Health Center Quality Leader by the Health Resources and Services Administration in 2017 and 2018. For more information about FoundCare or to schedule an appointment at one of its locations, please call 561-HEALTHY (561-432-5849) or visit www.foundcare.org.

Promise Fund of Florida is a 501(c)3 organization eliminating barriers to quality healthcare for our Palm Beach County neighbors to save lives due to late stage breast and cervical cancers. This will be achieved through patient navigators, community outreach and education, advocacy, and the establishment of a network of cooperating healthcare providers. For more information, visit www.promisefundofflorida.org.