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D.C. Cancer Consortium Launches "D.C. Cancer Answers" Help Line | Health

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D.C. Cancer Consortium Launches "D.C. Cancer Answers" Help Line

This story comes to us from Lisa Bass:

Washington, DC – Newly diagnosed cancer patients, those living with the disease and their caregivers will have a live and reassuring voice to answer many of their questions and provide support, beginning April 4.  DC Cancer AnswersSM 202-585-3210 is a new cancer resources phone line, created by DC Cancer Consortium (DCCC), expressly for residents of the District of Columbia.


The cancer help line’s services will be launched in partnership with two leading cancer treatment and advocacy organizations, the American Cancer Society and The George Washington Cancer Institute.  Support also will come from more than two dozen hospitals, cancer centers and community health organizations, all working together to increase access to cancer care in the District. The Consortium is funded by a grant from the City Council and administered through the District of Columbia Department of Health. 


The Consortium’s DC Cancer AnswersSM phone line is linked directly to the American Cancer Society (ACS) Regional Call Center in White Marsh, Maryland.  Calls to the line will be handled by specially trained, cancer information specialists, fluent in English and Spanish, who will connect callers to the Citywide Patient Navigator Network, which is funded by the Consortium and coordinated by The George Washington Cancer Institute.  The service also includes support for other non-English speaking callers.


“This is an important piece of the access-to-care puzzle that we have been trying to put together for many years in the District of Columbia.  We know what cancer patients and their caregivers need.  We know that we have incredible medical resources here in the District to address those needs. But now we have the right connections to complete the picture of a community where access to cancer care is comprehensive and instantaneous,” said Dr. John Lynch, board chairman of DCCC.


“DC Cancer AnswersSM is part of our mandate to shepherd a comprehensive cancer control program in the District.  It’s also an innovative approach that we hope will become recognized as a best practice among cancer control organizations across the country,” said YaVonne Vaughan, executive director of DCCC, which is in the process of updating the city’s five-year Cancer Control Plan.


Steven Patierno, the architect of the District’s patient navigation program and executive director of The GW Cancer Institute, says the DC Cancer AnswersSM line is a perfect complement for city-wide cancer patient navigation.  “Not only are we raising the bar for access to cancer care, particularly in parts of the District where cancer incidence and mortality rates are highest, but we are also setting a precedent for connecting all the resources of a community—its health care system, the media and its community-based organizations,” said Patierno.


Callers to DC Cancer AnswersSM will speak to American Cancer Society operators, who will make an initial assessment of the support and resources callers may need. Call center operators will then connect callers to Patient Navigators, who will set up appointments, make connections to services and provide support materials electronically or by mail.  The DC Citywide Patient Navigator Network is made up of 27 partner agencies and 20 Navigators, working out of 38 sites throughout the city.


To jump-start its promotional campaign for DC Cancer Answers, DCCC is partnering with ABC 7, which will air public service announcements about the help line and hold a telethon on Thursday, April 21, from 4:30 to 6:30 p.m.  The telethon is intended to raise awareness about the program and funding for continuation of the Citywide Patient Navigator program and other Consortium-supported projects.  Among those projects are free colorectal exams for under- and uninsured residents (DC Screen for Life), smoking-cessation efforts (Breathe DC), breast cancer survivor support for Hispanic women (What Now?) and a host of other community-based education and screening programs.