WCMS and Partners Create Coalition to Support Access to Colorectal Cancer Screening and Treatment

Asheville, NC – Western Carolina Medical Society (WCMS) is pleased to announce a new initiative to address lack of access to affordable colorectal cancer screening, colonoscopies and colorectal cancer care for uninsured patients in McDowell County. This work is supported by a grant from the UNC Lineberger Office of Community Outreach and Engagement’s Community Pilot Funding Program.

The initiative will bring together WCMS and partners including Digestive Health Partners, CareReach, McDowell Access to Care and Health, McDowell Hospital, HCA Healthcare and community members to gain consensus on how best to address colorectal cancer screening and affordable treatment for low-income, uninsured people in McDowell County and establish a commitment to create a process to collectively act to address this issue.

“We are excited to have this opportunity to bring all the stakeholders to the table to create a process that addresses colorectal cancer screening and treatment for uninsured people in McDowell County,” says Margarita Gonzalez, Project Access® Outreach Manager at WCMS. “We are grateful for the support and investment from UNC Lineberger.”

“We understand that it is more effective when communities, organizations and institutions come together to solve problems. Each comes with its expertise and resources all of which are equally important,” says Veronica Carlisle, MPH, CHES – Community Pilot Funding Program Manager, Office of Community Outreach and  Engagement, UNC Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center. “It is with enthusiasm that UNC Lineberger partners with WCMS and stakeholders to address colorectal cancer screening and care concerns in the area. Through the partnership, we look forward to achieving a mutual goal of improved health and care in this community and ultimately the state!”

UNC Lineberger is North Carolina’s only public National Cancer Institute designated comprehensive cancer center. The Office of Community Outreach and Engagement ensures that UNC Lineberger research, clinical care, and programmatic efforts are timely, relevant, responsive, and infused with community perspectives, including those perspectives of policy makers, community providers and public health practitioners, cancer patients and caregivers, and the public at large.

The Western Carolina Medical Society’s mission is to advocate for healthy communities, increase access to affordable healthcare, fight health inequities, and promote wellness in WNC. Since 1885, WCMS has been highly respected for its leadership and innovation in addressing issues of access to affordable health care, disparities in health, and wellness promotion. Throughout its history, WCMS has been at the forefront of working collaboratively with area organizations to address the health challenges facing our community’s residents. WCMS’ flagship program, Project Access®, provides free or low-cost comprehensive medical care to low-income, uninsured individuals, ranging from primary care, specialty care, inpatient surgeries, mental health and medications to interpreter services as well as referrals and navigation for socio-economic resources. Project Access®, which is marking its 25th anniversary this year, has served more than 69,000 patients since 1996 and has been replicated in over 100 communities in 32 states.

For more information about the Western Carolina Medical Society contact Amy Barcomb, Director of Development at 828-274-2267 or amy@mywcms.org or visit www.mywcms.org.