MEMPHIS, Tenn. — A health clinic in Memphis that primarily serves uninsured patients has one of the highest rates for cervical cancer screenings in the country, according to national screening data.
“It’s just because of the way our healthcare system works. It's very fragmented,” said Dr. Susan Nelson. “You have to have a job to have health care, not everybody has a job, even if you do have a job, it may not provide insurance.”
Dr. Nelson says that about 85 percent of their patients fall into that category. One of the greatest challenges for uninsured patients are cancer screenings.
“People that don't have insurance, where are you going to go to get a pap smear?” Dr. Nelson said. “You can't go to the emergency room.”
So Church Health created a system to help with early detection.
“No matter what you come for, our staff checks to see, ‘Have you had your cancer screenings? Have you had your colon cancer screening? Your pap smear? Your mammogram?’” Dr. Nelson said.
Because of that, 58% of Church Health’s female patients are up-to-date on their cervical cancer screenings, a higher rate than 90% of clinics and hospitals across the nation.
“If you wait until you have symptoms from cancer, it's often too late,” Dr. Nelson said.
She says it’s a process that even those who are insured need to do more often.
“People are too busy, they have no symptoms so they don't think they're sick, or they're afraid,” Dr. Nelson said.
The cost is covered by the Tennessee Breast and Cervical Cancer Program and Church Health is the largest provider of its services in the state.
“Church Health is a place to take care of all the people that fall through those cracks,” Dr. Nelson said. “There's always a line at the door.”
The Church Health walk-in clinic is open Monday-Friday and an application process is available for those who whish to become regular patients.