The Women’s Health Network of Jewish Family Service integrates mental health and medical services to increase breast health compliance among medically underserved women ages 40 and older in Atlantic County.
In 2011, Jewish Family Service (JFS) received funding from the Susan G. Komen Central and South Jersey Affiliate Foundation to provide breast services to women with mental health concerns. Over the last five years, JFS has expanded the program’s reach to serve women who experience barriers to care such as: mental health issues; homelessness; low income; unemployment; lack of insurance and primary care homes; language barriers; transportation challenges; low education and medical literacy levels; and mistrust of providers. The Women’s Health Network (WHN) offers on-site services and ongoing patient navigation support to help reduce these barriers and increase the number of women who are screened, diagnosed and who receive treatment, if necessary.
WHN employs a nurse educator who works with local health systems (including a mobile mammography unit) to schedule on-site education and mammography screening sessions at locations the target population frequent – i.e. mental health partial day centers; homeless shelters; food banks; recovery centers; schools; and health-related events. JFS has an extensive network of partner agencies which enables WHN to connect with a broader range of women who may be reluctant to seek services or are unaware that they are eligible to receive them. The nurse navigates these women through the education and screening process providing appointment scheduling and emotional support. WHN greatly contributes to the Affiliate’s goal of reducing breast cancer mortality. Since the program’s inception, JFS has increased the number of women who receive potentially life-saving breast health services. To date, WHN has helped 3,000 women learn risk factors associated with breast cancer and the benefits of receiving annual mammograms and facilitated breast screenings for 1,000 women.