|In what may seem like an unusual partnership, two agencies in Bridgeport are joining forces to improve women’s access to healthcare. Beginning in the fall, The Norma F. Pfriem Breast Care Center will pilot a new breast cancer awareness program at the Cardinal Sheehan Center. The Shehan Center offers programs and activities that address the educational, recreational, cultural, and social needs of moderate and low-income families and young people in Bridgeport. Women in Greater Bridgeport, particularly minority and low income women, have a high risk of early death from breast cancer.|
The program will help women learn about their elevated risk for breast cancer and get life-saving mammograms through the Breast Care Center’s screening program. The Norma F. Pfriem Breast Care Center works with schools and community groups to educate women of all ages about breast cancer and provide free screening services to medically underserved women to prevent early death from breast cancer. The Center has the largest program of free care in the area.
“Women, especially working and low income women, don’t always have time to attend to their health needs,” says Nancy Church, the Breast Care Center’s Community Education Coordinator. “But they will take time out for their children. Working with community groups that serve young people has helped us connect with high risk women in larger numbers.”
The Breast Care Center and the Cardinal Sheehan Center will develop and implement programs for girls and adult women. “We’re eager to work together, providing opportunities for the moms of the youngsters we serve,” says Terry O’Connor, executive director of the Cardinal Shehan Center. “This is something new for us.”
The two agencies were brought together by the Fairfield Christmas Tree Festival, which each year holds a holiday festival to benefit charities in Fairfield County. This year the festival committee chose two organizations, helping them form a partnership more rapidly then they would have on their own. “We believe in helping nonprofits pool their strengths,” says Kristin Nick of the Fairfield Christmas Tree Festival. “The Cardinal Sheehan Center serves low income families but doesn’t have programming specifically for moms and caretakers. The Norma F. Pfriem Breast Care Center can help high risk women learn about this serious health issue and make it easy for them to get a breast exam.”
The Breast Care Center educates over 3,000 women each year, many of whom are high risk women from Bridgeport. “This partnership creates a new avenue for reaching women of all ages,” says Donna Twist, Ph.D., executive director of the Breast Care Center, who with her staff has implemented programs at other unusual locations in Bridgeport, such as a food pantry and homeless program. “We have a better chance of reaching high risk women if we meet them where they live, learn, work and worship. We’re grateful to the Christmas Tree Festival for providing us with this opportunity.”
Part of Bridgeport Hospital and Yale New Haven Health System, The Norma F. Pfriem Breast Care Center has served more than 20,000 women and their families since it was established in 1999. A member of the prestigious National Consortium of Breast Care Centers, the Center provides a wide range of diagnostic care and treatment at its Bridgeport Hospital and Fairfield locations, including medical oncology, surgical and chemotherapy services, plastic surgery, mammography and radiation therapy, and genetic risk assessment as well as opportunities to participate in clinical trials.
The Breast Care Center office at 111 Beach Road in Fairfield also provides comprehensive women’s wellness services, including nutrition counseling, massage and Reiki therapy, wig and prosthesis fitting, counseling, yoga, Pilates, naturopathic medicine, and other patient support activities. The Center has a satellite office on Park Avenue in Trumbull.
For more information call 203-255-5300 or visit the Center on the web at www.bridgeporthospital.org/cancer/breast.