Betty Skidmore went to the health department last December for a mammogram when a knot was discovered.
When the health department finds any problems or abnormalities, their patients are referred to the proper health care physician.
"The knot was suspicious, so they sent me to the hospital," said Skidmore. "Right away, they wanted me to have a biopsy. I was then sent back to the health department to get the papers signed to have the biopsy."
Skidmore was diagnosed with breast cancer.
She was then sent back to the health department where she was introduced to women's health nurse practitioner Kelli Hensley, who has been a practitioner for two years and has been involved in women's health around five years.
Hensley told Skidmore about the Kentucky Women's Cancer Screening Program (KWCSP).
Since 1990, the KWCSP of the Kentucky department for public health has provided breast and cervical cancer screenings and follow-up diagnostic services throughout local health department's, and the Harlan County Health Department has conducted several hundred cancer screenings each year since that time.
Through the health department, women can receive a breast exam and mammogram, a pelvic exam and a pap test. If any abnormal results are found, the women may be eligible for Medicaid coverage and treatment through KWSCP.
In order for the program to pay for treatment, the following criteria must be met: You must have an initial screen at the health department, be 21 to 64 years of age, be income eligible, have no other third party payer source, have a social security number, not be housed in a public institution, be a resident of Kentucky and be a U.S. citizen or qualified alien.
Ultimately, Skidmore met these requirements.
"Kelli immediately got on the phone and got this set-up to where I could get my treatment paid for," said Skidmore. "It was surprising to me. I had no idea about this program."
After Skidmore's biopsy, she was advised to either have her breast removed or have treatments.
Skidmore then chose to go to Saint Joseph's in Lexington, where she had a lumpectomy.
She then underwent four chemotherapy treatments in Lexington and 33 radiation treatments in Corbin, which were also paid for by the program.
"It sure made a difference knowing that I could do this and not have to worry about the financial part," said Skidmore. "A lot of people don't know about this. It's wonderful."
Skidmore added that going through the treatments is hard enough, and that it's a great thing that this program is there for women to get the care they need and deserve.
Skidmore will be going to both Lexington and Corbin this month for follow-ups.
Skidmore said that she has never been treated as nice as she was at the health department, and that the nurses there have even called and checked on her. She went on to say that it's nice to know that people really care.
Roy Skidmore, Betty Skidmore's son, is pleased with the payment help that his mother received.
"I'm thankful to know that the benefit was there for my mother," said Roy Skidmore. " She had enough stress with the ordeal, and it was nice to know that the program was there to lift the financial burden."
Hensley said that this is a great program.
"I think if it wasn't for the program, a lot of women wouldn't get the care they need," said Hensley.
The health department makes sure that patients are followed closely to see that they get all of the proper follow-up care.
Community health nurse at the Harlan County Health Department, Gwen Turner, is thrilled with the program.
"It's one of the best kept secrets in Harlan County," said Turner.
Turner also wants women to know that October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month, and that they are encouraged to receive cancer screens at the health department.
"Every woman that has a cancer screen this month will receive a free mini tote filled with incentives, such as a breast care diary, emery board, forget-me-not flower seeds and mints," said Turner.
All women who get cancer screens at the health department will also be registered to receive a large nylon tote with a make-up case, pedometer and flashlight keychain.