INDIANAPOLIS — According to statistics from Susan G. Komen for the Cure, African-American women, while just as likely to get mammograms as Caucasian women, are still 42 percent more likely to die from breast cancer. For Hispanic women, it's 20 percent.
Some say that's becasue these demographic groups are about 90 percent less likely to have health insurance. Komen is trying to help reverse this trend with a breast health summit Wednesday at Ivy Tech's Fall Creek Center, 2535 N. Capitol Ave. Thanks to a $1 million KeyBank Foundation grant, the organization will train community health advisors to reach these affected groups.
"This is a very high-need population that we've been trying to reach, but we only have a staff of four so there's only so much we can do," said Dana Curish, executive director of Komen's central Indiana affiliate. "This will give us a trained cadre of between 25 and 30 skilled community health workers that can help us reach that population."
After training, the volunteers will make presentations to various community organizations and attend churches and health fairs, "using whatever means are available to reach the vulnerable population," Curish said.
Then they'll educate about breast cancer - including the need for early screenings - and help women find such programs and assist them in navigating the process.
Indianapolis is the fourth pilot city in the program. There are three already established in Ohio, as well as in Syracuse, N.Y.
"I've heard it's been very well received," Curish said. "The volunteers have loved the training and tools they've been given."
The initiative is expected to train more than 500 advisors in 18 cities by next year. Curish says their goal was to train between 20 and 25 community health advisors here. As of last Friday, 28 people had signed up. The majority of them are African-American and Hispanic.
"That's exactly what we had hoped for," Curish said.
They'll take more volunteers still. Training lasts from 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Wednesday. Call the central Indiana Komen office at 638-2873 to register or visit the website at KomenIndy.org for more information.
Others interested in the topic may attend a summit featuring a panel of area experts. That is from 8 to 9:30 a.m.