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Health and Human Services

The Cayuga County Legislature Health and Human Services Committee Thursday approved the acceptance of a state grant to fund free cancer screenings for residents with insufficient or no health insurance.

AUBURN — The Cayuga County Legislature's Health and Human Services Committee voted Thursday to tentatively accept a five-year, $1 million grant for free cancer screenings, this time with the county acting as a regional lead based on its exemplary success in the past.

The grant provides $200,000 a year, beginning in 2018 through 2023, to help the Cayuga County Health Department participate in the Integrated Cancer Services program. The program provides breast, cervical and colorectal cancer screenings to eligible patients with insufficient or no health insurance. Thanks to a local provider, the county is also able to offer prostate screenings.

Cayuga County has been participating in the program for over 20 years, but for this grant cycle the state asked Cayuga to help administer the service in Cortland in Tompkins Counties, which health department director Kathleen Cuddy partly credits to “amazingly great success rates” with the program.

“We are amongst the best in New York state,” Cuddy said.

Cuddy, along with director of community health services Nancy Purdy, who administers the program, also attributed the success to local partners including the area hospitals, care providers and even restaurant owners who are eager to host informational meetings or display brochures.

“I think our partners can appreciate it also because everybody knows somebody who has been affected by cancer,” Cuddy said.

“There's just such an interest in finding and assisting these potential real needs. It's a very caring regard,” Purdy said.

Legislator Tim Lattimore, R-Auburn, noted that the program also helps the state and county financially, as cancer detected late is almost always significantly more expensive, and less effective, to treat than cancer detected early.

Lattimore's sister Michele Sedor, a former legislator, was a driving force behind a resolution from the Legislature that provided time off to county employees to get screening, a measure she proposed in light of her family's and her own experiences with cancer.

The assistance doesn't end at the screenings, however. Committee chairwoman and former health department director Legislator Elane Daly, D-Auburn, noted that any individuals found to have cancer through the screenings would receive special eligibility for Medicaid assistance to treat said cancer.

The committee voted unanimously to contract with the state for the grant. The resolution must now proceed through the Ways and Means Committee and the full Legislature.

Staff writer Ryan Franklin can be reached at (315) 282-2252 or ryan.franklin@lee.net. Follow him on Twitter @RyanNYFranklin

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