Thanks to Colon Cancer Month supporters



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To the editor:

As a primary-care provider with many uninsured and underinsured patients, Families First Health Center is challenged to help our patients obtain preventive services, such as colonoscopies, that must be provided by specialists. Access to screenings that can prevent cancer, or detect it early, should not depend on a person’s insurance status or ability to pay. But because these screenings are expensive, uninsured patients sometimes go without them.

Fortunately, since 2011, Atlantic Digestive Specialists and Portsmouth Regional Hospital have generously provided Families First patients with colonoscopies at no charge during National Colon Cancer Awareness Month in March.

Dr. Roger Epstein has led the effort, coordinating the screenings and often providing services. We thank Dr. Epstein and his colleague, Dr. Aristotle Damianos, who each donated their time to provide the screenings this year.

Portsmouth Regional Hospital donated use of their facility and the time of the staff in the endoscopy unit. This significant contribution comes on top of significant financial support that the hospital provides Families First year in and year out. Also supporting the program were Dr. Sonya Schwaegerle and Dr. Darlene Knapp from Atlantic Pathology, P.A. and Quest Diagnostics, who donated pathology services; Anthony Nichols and Braintree Laboratories, which donated the prep kits; the endoscopy staff at the hospital; and Erin McCarthy at the hospital and Jannelle Bowick at Atlantic Digestive for helping us coordinate the program.

Eight Families First patients and two patients referred from other practices received screenings this year. On behalf of Families First and these patients, I would like to express thanks Atlantic Digestive Specialists, the hospital and the others who made this possible.

Helen B. Taft, Executive Director

Families First Health & Support Center

Portsmouth

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