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Things you should know about HealthNet's new Diagnose Women Project

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ROCHELLE B. BIRKELO
January 21, 2012
— A new program being instituted through HealthNet of Rock County got a shot in the arm recently as the Women's Fund tendered a $3,000 grant to help fund the Diagnose Women Project.

The Women's Fund is a component of the Community Foundation of Southern Wisconsin. HealthNet is a local nonprofit health and dental clinic that provides primary dental, vision and mental health care along with orthopedics, pediatrics and medication.


Jean Randles, executive director of HealthNet, answered these questions to shed more light on the organization's Diagnose Women Project.


-- What is the program?


The Diagnose Women Project provides ultrasound services for low-income and uninsured women in Rock County. This will help to provide proper diagnoses that lead to healthy patients who are able to live better lives.


-- How many women will be served through this grant?


Grant dollars will allow at least 15 women to receive ultrasounds. These are women who would not have been able to pay for these services in the past—even at a reduced fee.


-- How is a patient selected for the program?


HealthNet volunteer physicians will identify patients who need ultrasounds to identify masses such as ovarian cysts, uterine fibroids and ovarian or uterine cancers before referring them to the Wisconsin Well Women's Program.


The Wisconsin Well Women's Program provides clinical breast cancer and cervical cancer screenings for uninsured, low-income women ages 45-64. However, the program does not include MRIs, X-rays, blood work or biopsy services.


If a patient is not eligible for the program's services, HealthNet will advocate for the patient through financial assistance programs at local area hospitals. If the patient does not qualify for no-cost assistance, services will be provided by one of these hospital providers, and HealthNet will pay up to the 60 percent reduced fee.


-- How important is this project?


When people prolong treatment or choose not to seek care because of fears associated with incurring debt from medical bills, the community suffers in the loss of productive employees, consumers, parents and healthy members in the community.


When low-income and uninsured individuals use an emergency room for primary health care, out-of-pocket medical expenses can bankrupt them. Eighty percent of HealthNet patients said they would go to the ER or urgent care if HealthNet was not open.


Also, ultrasound services would help physicians in diagnosing symptoms such as pelvic pain, abnormal bleeding and other menstrual problems, plus provide female patients with information about what was causing their pain. Providing needed ultrasound services to HealthNet's female patients also would allow for quicker treatment.


-- Will the project continue after grant funding runs out?


Additional funding will be researched and requested to enhance the program to allow more patients, including both men and women, in the future to be accurately diagnosed through ultrasounds.


-- How and where will ultrasounds be provided?


Services will be provided off-site. HealthNet will pay the incurred expenses at or below the negotiated fee of the service provider.



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