Groundbreaking partnership brings needed services to Detroit women

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    Joyce KingThere’s a reason why it’s been three years since 54-year-old Brenda Parker has had a mammogram. “I don’t like them,” said the Detroit mother of two. “And besides that, when you get a mammogram in some hospitals, you have to go through the cancer section. That just fills me with dread.”

    But then Parker received a postcard from her health insurance provider, Omnicare Health Plan, inviting her to schedule a mammogram and pap exam at the Midtown Detroit Planned Parenthood on Aug. 23, 2011. The postcard, plus the offer of free transportation and a $25 gift card, made her think twice. Maybe it was time to get the life-saving cancer screening that she had ignored for years. Collaboration puts ‘Ladies First’ Parker is just the kind of patient Omnicare was hoping to attract with its pilot “Ladies First” program, a partnership with Planned Parenthood and Northland Radiology.

    Through the program, Omnicare members were given incentives to make appointments at Planned Parenthood’s Detroit health center. Northland Radiology parked a mobile mammogram unit in Planned Parenthood’s parking lot, allowing patients to get one-stop preventive health care services. “The primary things we focus on when working with our members are access to healthcare and quality of healthcare,” said Patricia Beard, Omnicare’s manager of member outreach. “This collaboration gave us an opportunity give our members access to a quality service. The location of the Detroit Planned Parenthood was fairly easy to reach in an urban setting. And the environment is important—people want to come to a nice facility like this one.”

    Indeed, Parker breathed a sigh of relief when she arrived at Planned Parenthood for her mammogram. It wasn’t like a hospital, it was more like a professional medical practice.

    “This was the best service I’ve ever had,” she said. “The staff was friendly, and the technician made me feel very comfortable. It was a good atmosphere.”

    A lifetime of preventive healthcare For Planned Parenthood Mid and South Michigan, the partnership also has many benefits. “We tend to see younger women who come to us regarding their reproductive health,” said Bob MacKenzie, vice president of medical business development. “But with the partnership with Omnicare, we were able to see older women for their gynecological needs as well—annual exams, pap tests, breast exams, and now even convenient access to mammograms.” “I’m past the ‘flowering age,’” laughed Parker, when asked why she had never considered Planned Parenthood for her health care. “I’m not concerned about things like birth control. But now I know I can come here each year to keep healthy.”

    Joyce King, the 61- year-old grandmother of twins, agreed: “The last time I’d been to Planned Parenthood was for basic family planning. But now that my grandchildren are 15, they are encouraging me to stay healthy so that I can do things with them and be a part of their lives. By getting my mammogram, I took some positive steps today.”

    The “Ladies First” collaboration was so successful that Omnicare, Planned Parenthood Mid and South Michigan and Northland Radiology repeated the program on Sept. 16 at Planned Parenthood’s Midtown health center, 4229 Cass Ave. Future “Ladies First” events are being scheduled for Planned Parenthood’s Livonia and Warren health centers.

    For more information, contact Patricia Beard, manager, Community Outreach, Omnicare, at (313) 465-1507 OmniCare Health Plan, a Coventry Health Care Plan, is a Medicaid Health Plan servicing Wayne, Oakland, Kalamazoo and St. Joseph counties for Medicaid and a MI Child provider in Wayne, Oakland, Macomb, Hillsdale, Kalamazoo and St. Joseph counties.

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