An Early Detection Program Success Story

My name is Sayali Ghatpande and I am a HealthCorps Member serving with the Connecticut Breast and Cervical Cancer Early Detection Program, EDP for short, here at the Community Health Center of Middletown. EDP offers preventative services, treatment, and follow-up care for uninsured and underinsured female patients aged 21-64. Besides its focus on breast and cervical health, EDP also focuses on colorectal health, providing patients with access to many preventative services, including mammograms, Pap testing, annual gynecological visits, and colonoscopies.

I had the opportunity to speak with an EDP patient who recently obtained health insurance, and was previously part of the breast, cervical, and colorectal portions of EDP.  My conversation with this friendly patient began as she explained that she had filled out many forms to receive state insurance, only to be denied. Her most recent attempt to obtain coverage was successful as the new Medicaid expansion guidelines changed her previous ineligibility. Always diligent in scheduling her annual mammograms and Pap tests, she contacted the EDP program director immediately after hearing about the program from her doctor’s office.  A strong believer in the importance of preventative medicine, her mindset was strengthened after a routine colonoscopy saved her life. “I don’t know where I would be today if I hadn’t called about EDP’s colorectal program” she stated, adding that her favorite part of the program was the constant support she received from Nicole Jarjura, EDP’s caring, hard-working, and empathetic Program Manager. “My favorite part was definitely meeting Nicole!” she told me with a smile. She mentioned that the quality of care she received from her Primary Care Provider was great, and that she is thankful that she can continue to see a physician she feels comfortable with even after receiving her new insurance.

When I asked the EDP patient if she had any tips for uninsured patients looking for coverage, she said to “keep applying, things change. You have to keep looking. There are programs out there that will help you!” she added enthusiastically.

I couldn’t agree more; perseverance really pays off! EDP’s goal is to help uninsured women obtain care, but we also love being a part of success stories, of watching patients win the battle against their illnesses and conquer their insurance status by obtaining coverage.

In fact, CHC’s own Access to Care team will be hosting an enrollment fair on Monday, February 24th at 675 Main Street in Middletown from 3:00 – 7:00 pm. This is a great chance to work one-on-one with our knowledgeable eligibility counselors to find a plan that works best for your needs!  The last day for open enrollment is March 31st, so be sure to sign up before then to avoid a tax penalty! Visit Access Health CT for more information on important dates and deadlines.

I absolutely love the work that I am able to do with the program! Through EDP, I have the opportunity not only to enroll eligible patients, but to work in the community and talk to women about the importance of preventative services. Through health outreach, EDP is not only able to provide patients with a route to obtaining care, but also a path to understanding why a mammogram or pap test, for example, is important. I strongly believe that an informed patient has all the tools they need to play an active role in their health and the care that they receive.  

EDP is unique in that patients are able to be seen not only at the various Community Health Centers we have in CT, but also by private gynecologists in clinics throughout Middlesex County.  In this way, I believe that women enrolled in our program do not feel labeled as uninsured, and that they have as much independence and access that their insured counterparts have as well. A patient’s expression of relief and excitement after they find out that there is an EDP-participating provider in their town definitely makes the list of my favorite EDP moments!

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