OHSU Center For Women's Health Provides Free Pap Tests, Pelvic Exams; Appointment Phone Line Open

02/20/08  Portland, OR

The event is part of a statewide initiative to eradicate cervical cancer deaths

The Center for Women’s Health at Oregon Health & Science University will offer more than 100 free cervical cancer screening appointments to women in the Portland metropolitan area on Saturday, March 1, in its second cervical and breast cancer prevention event.  

Beginning on Thursday, Feb. 14, at 8 a.m., women can make an appointment for a free screening by calling 503 346-1212.

This event aims to promote regular health screenings for women and to provide access to women who have experienced barriers to receiving a Pap test. A Pap test detects small changes in the cervix. Usually these small changes, also known as abnormal cells, are not cancerous, but may develop into cervical cancer if left untreated. Many cervical cancer outcomes are greatly improved when the cancer is detected early.

In addition to screenings,  the center will host a free health fair  focusing on additional health screenings, including depression, blood pressure, diabetes risk-factor assessment, body mass index, bone density and hip-waist ratio, as well as health information pertinent to women throughout many life stages.

Women who have experienced barriers to receiving a Pap test are especially encouraged to participate, but there are no financial or other prerequisites required. Those who make an appointment will receive a Pap test, pelvic exam and clinical breast exam. If space and time permits, walk-ins may also receive screenings.

Nearly 90 women received free Pap tests and other health screening services in the Center for Women’s Health first outreach event, which occurred on Friday, Nov. 16, 2007. Women from all over Oregon attended the event - two women drove more than 100 miles to receive the free screening. Of those respondents who identified their insurance status, 76.5 percent of women attendees identified themselves as uninsured.

The recipients of the screenings included women such as Valori Worth, a toll booth operator who lives in Hood River, Ore. Worth, 44, does not have health insurance and often lives paycheck to paycheck - a situation that doesn’t leave a lot of room for covering the cost of preventive care. “When it comes down to paying the rent, buying groceries or going to the doctor for a check-up, what do you think wins out?” she said.  

“Even though I had to drive 60 miles here and 60 miles back, it was worth the trip. I hope they continue to do this … . I just feel so much better knowing I’ve been checked,” Worth said.

Joanna Cain, M.D., director of the OHSU Center for Women’s Health, has seen the effects of cancer firsthand in her practice. “The patients I treat have convinced me that we need to reach out to women. We need to diagnose cervical cancer earlier.” Cain said. “While we are thrilled that generous community support has enabled us to offer these screenings to women, it is all too clear that many, many more women continue to experience barriers to receiving well-women’s exams.”

Cain, professor of obstetrics and gynecology, OHSU School of Medicine, also stresses the event is only part of what will be a broader campaign to eradicate cervical cancer mortality in Oregon, a campaign spearheaded by the OHSU Center for Women’s Health and the OHSU Cancer Institute. The campaign aims to promote early detection screenings among all Oregon women - in part by encouraging health systems across the state to address gaps in women’s preventive services through initiatives similar to the OHSU Center for Women’s Health free health screening events.

This program has been made possible through a partnership with community members who raised the funds to begin the program, the support of the OHSU Cancer Institute and volunteers from numerous OHSU departments. The campaign arose from an idea shared by Cain and Anne Nedrow, M.D., director of Women’s Primary Care at the OHSU Center for Women’s Health.

To make an appointment for the March 1 "Screening Saturday," call 503 346-1212 after 8 a.m. on Thursday, Feb. 14. For more information on donations and volunteer opportunities, visit www.ohsuwomenshealth.com.


About the Center for Women’s Health
On a day-to-day basis, the OHSU Center for Women's Health is fundamentally changing the health care experience for women by bringing together outstanding clinical care, cutting-edge research and innovative patient and community education in one vibrant location.

The center has been awarded the designation as a National Center of Excellence for women's health by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. It is one of only 21 institutions in the country to earn this distinction, and the only institution in the Northwest.

About OHSU
Oregon Health & Science University is the state’s only health and research university, and only academic health center. As Portland's largest employer and the fourth largest in Oregon (excluding government), OHSU's size contributes to its ability to provide many services and community support activities not found anywhere else in the state. It serves more than 184,000 patients, and is a conduit for learning for more than 3,900 students and trainees. OHSU is the source of more than 200 community outreach programs that bring health and education services to each county in the state.