Medical center offers mammogram incentive Free rides intended to encourage women to get cancer check

October 06, 1997|By Kristi E. Swartz | Kristi E. Swartz,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

It's Faye Hunt Anderson's mission to make testing for breast and cervical cancer just a little less intimidating.

She can't make it fun, she admits. But she can at least give women information so that they know what to expect -- and a free ride to get the tests.

As Anne Arundel Medical Center's community education outreach coordinator, Anderson has recruited taxi drivers to take women to the hospital for mammograms.

In four years, more than 1,000 women have used the free cab service, for which AAMC pays $760 a year. The money comes from the hospital's Komen Grant.

"We want to do away with as many barriers as possible to these women getting screened for breast and cervical cancer," said Anderson.

Anderson has specifically targeted Hispanic women. Many of them, she found, don't visit a doctor because they speak only Spanish and find the U.S. medical system daunting.

Anderson works with two Hispanic drivers from Checker Cab Co. in Annapolis.

Driver Elpedio Garcia and his wife, Anna, have been working with Anderson for four years.

"There are a lot of people who come from outside the country, and they don't trust anyone," Garcia said. "The services are there, but sometimes people are afraid to go to the doctor because they don't speak English."

The Garcias have taken the program one step further, going to their church and community to encourage women to get screened.

The free taxi service is used mostly by women from Annapolis, but it has also provided rides to women from Glen Burnie, Pasadena, Severn and southern parts of the county, Anderson vTC said.

Two years ago Anderson asked Reese Mortuary to donate limousines for one day in May to transport women for screenings.

Anderson rode along to teach the women about breast self-examinations and other cancer preventive measures.

"It was a very special event," she said.

But Anderson said fear overrides transportation as a reason stopping women from getting tested. "Some women think if you don't feel anything, then they shouldn't look for anything," she said.

Women ages 40 to 49 should be tested every one to two years, and then every year once they reach 50, Anderson said.

Pub Date: 10/06/97

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