Beyond the start of the New Year, January is also cervical cancer awareness month. Cervical cancer and HPV (human papillomavirus) are both preventable diseases. HPV is an infection that spreads through sexual activity and causes almost all cases of cervical cancer.
The good news? The HPV vaccine can prevent HPV. Regular screening, testing, and proper follow-up care can help prevent cervical cancer altogether.
Even better news? Lamprey Health Care is a screening site for NH’s Let No Woman Be Overlooked Breast and Cervical Cancer Program, commonly referred to as BCCP. The program’s goal is to prevent cancer by giving access to proper screenings and testing. BCCP helps remove barriers that make it difficult for patients to receive screening services.
That sounds great, but does that really mean? We sat down with Newmarket and Raymond center’s BCCP Coordinator, Wendy Watts, to talk about program details and what you can expect.
What does your role as BCCP Coordinator entail?
My role is to coordinate preventative services such as pap smears, mammograms, and breast exams for patients who may be due or overdue for routine check-ups. I spend time outreaching to patients by phone or email to make sure they are aware they are due for screening and may qualify for the program. I help our provider staff throughout the day. If they are in a visit and identify the patient would benefit from BCCP, I will meet with the patient to answer their questions and enroll them in the program. I also assist patients who may need additional services with area specialists.
Walk us through a patient’s experience with BCCP.
The first step is talking with the patient about the importance of preventative care. While discussing the patient’s needs, we determine their eligibility. We can do this by telephone, in person, or by mail using our outreach application. If the patient is eligible for the program, I schedule their appointments for the needed services. If the patient is not eligible for services through BCCP, we work to find other resources and support, so the patient receives the care they need.
What services are covered?
Typically, patients will use the program for their annual gynecology screening, including a pelvic and breast exam. Based on the patient’s age and clinical guidelines, pap smears and mammograms are also a part of the annual screening. Additional diagnostic services available include:
- Additional mammograms views
- Breast ultrasounds
- Colposcopy, a procedure to closely examine the cervix
- 6-month repeat pap smear
- Surgical consults for breast lump/breast tissue
What types of patients might benefit from these services?
Patients ages 21-64 who are uninsured are eligible for BCCP. Patients who have insurance with a high deductible and need diagnostics services such as 6-month follow up pap smears or colposcopy. We want to make sure that all women are receiving appropriate screenings, so if you are unsure if you qualify, please give me a call, and we can discuss your situation.
What happens if the screening finds something? How do patients access treatment?
If an abnormal finding is present, patients are covered through BCCP for diagnostic services (breast imaging, colposcopy, GYN consult, and breast consults). Patients needing further testing in a hospital setting are enrolled in the BCCP Medicaid program for a short-term period until results are known. If abnormal cells or cancer is detected, the patient can stay enrolled in this program until the specialist indicates that they are no longer in need of treatment.
Do you have a part in coordinating those services?
Very much so! I schedule services for patients as well as work with mammography centers, breast specialists, oncology specialists, and other provider offices. Beyond helping patients enroll in the financial assistance aspect of the program, I help them navigate the system so they can get the care they need.
How many patients use BCCP?
Lamprey Health Care provides care through BCCP for approximately 300 women each year.
What is the one thing you want people to know about the program?
People without insurance need and deserve preventive care. Programs, such as BCCP, are available to help them get the care they need. Sometimes people with financial challenges avoid preventive care out of concern that there is no way to afford treatment. Coverage is available, and we are here to help!
For more information, or to see if you’re eligible for the program, please call your health center and ask to speak with the BCCP coordinator. Visit the Women’s Health section of our website for more resources and information on women’s health.