Pontchartrain Links teams up with Ochsner to provide free screenings for Breast Cancer month

Madison Brydie Data News Weekly Contributor

October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month and on Saturday, October 16, 2021, the Pontchartrain Chapter of the Links, Incorporated partnered with Ochsner Baptist to host “Links in Pinks.” The event provided free mammogram screenings with same-day results for local women, particularly women 30 years of age with a family history of breast cancer in their mother or sister, or women 40 years of age or older.

“The chapter wants to do its part in getting information so women in underserved communities get the testing they need,” said Dr. Shaniece Bickham, the President of the Pontchartrain Chapter of Links, Incorporated.

The event, held at Ochsner’s McFarland Medical Plaza, was organized by the Pontchartrain Chapter for Links, Incorporated, which is part of the larger volunteer organization consisting of 15,000 women of color across the United States in various chapters. The “Links in Pinks” Campaign to encourage screenings was first launched in October 2020, by regional chapters of the organization in the South.

This year they were able to partner with Ochsner Medical Center to not only include the free mammograms, but COVID-19 Vaccinations, continental breakfast/box lunches, educational speakers from an Ochsner representative, and a Links, Incorporated member, and information on Ochsner’s Smoking Initiative Campaign.

“It’s just very important that we engage in testing early on and early detection from what I read increases your chances of recovery,” Bickham said.

In the U.S., Black women have the highest mortality rate from breast cancer, at around 31 percent, the highest of any other racial group, according to data from Breast Cancer Prevention Partners.

“We were able to sign up 25 women, 3 of which had abnormalities that needed to be checked out,” said Dr. Erica Broussard Bart, the Ochsner Baptist Radiology Site Lead and Medical Director. “Seeds have been planted … and you can start to see them grow and how many more women we will be able to reach,” said Bart, who is also a member of the Pontchartrain Chapter for the Links, Inc.

Access to care plays a major role in Black women’s survival of breast cancer, as data has shown that Black women are more likely to develop the disease before reaching fifty. This is why the event aimed to encourage early screening. Due to lower access to quality care and lack of early detection, the Pontchartrain Chapter hoped to help bridge the mortality gap and provide resources that can increase early diagnosis that could potentially save lives.

“The difficulty becomes making sure that they all can afford it [through] Medicaid eligibility, and things like expansion of Medicaid,” Bart said. “I see what we’re doing with ‘Links and Pinks’ as one of the ways to reach out and pluck these women out of their normal lives that don’t even think of it as an option of getting care,” Bart added.
Photos courtesy the Pontchartrain (LA) chapter of the Links, Inc.

1. Ochsner Baptist Radiology Site Lead/Medical Director Dr. Erica Broussard Bart, a member of the Pontchartrain (LA) chapter of the Links, Inc. with Josh LaFleur, Medical Director of Imaging for Ochsner Baptist Radiology, hosted residents for free screening mammograms on Saturday, Oct. 16TH.

2. From left to right: Dr. Janet Barnes, Dr. Lynn Bernal-Green, Dr. Christy Valentine-Theard and Dr. Erica Broussard Bart. All are members of the Pontchartrain (LA) Chapter of The Links, Incorporated at the October Breast Cancer Awareness Month event.

3. Residents attend a free screening for Breast Cancer Awareness month hosted by the Pontchartrain (LA) chapter of the Links, Inc. on Saturday, October 16 at Ochsner Health Center’s Baptist Campus on Clara Street.

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