Falls Community Health Recognized for Colorectal Cancer Screening Efforts

Falls Community Health is one of many organizations nationwide striving to increase screening and awareness about colorectal cancer, and the clinic was recently recognized with a grant and with a staff award for efforts to promote preventive screenings.

The South Dakota Community Foundation awarded $7,000 to Falls Community Health to help patients access diagnostic colonoscopies, and Sara Romeo, RN Navigator for Falls Community Health, received the Champion of the Year award from the American Cancer Society and South Dakota Department of Health’s Comprehensive Cancer Control Division.

Approximately 1,880 of Falls Community Health patients fall into the screening age recommendations for colorectal cancer screening (ages 50–75). A majority of these patients are uninsured or underinsured, however, so the cost of a colonoscopy becomes a barrier.

“As we care for our patients, they understand that screening services like colonoscopies are important,” said Public Health Director Jill Franken. “But, they are also concerned about costs. If a diagnostic colonoscopy is needed, many of the patients refuse the test because they don’t know how they will pay for it. With this funding from the South Dakota Community Foundation, we hope to increase the number of our patients who receive this important, and potentially life-saving, screening.”

Colorectal cancer is the second leading cause of death among cancers affecting men and women in the U.S., so early detection is key. A colonoscopy can identify precancerous polyps so they can be removed before they turn into cancer.

The Champion of the Year award recognized Sara Romeo’s efforts to prioritize and advance colorectal cancer screening initiatives that align with priorities in the South Dakota Comprehensive Cancer Control Plan. As a nurse navigator, she offers education for health care providers, staff, and patients; follows up on patient screenings; schedules diagnostic colonoscopies; and reminds patients of upcoming or past due screenings.

“We are so proud of Sara and our entire clinic team,” said Franken. “As a patient-centered medical home, Falls Community Health is a primary care resource for the entire community, especially those who may be uninsured or underserved. We appreciate the support of community partners and funders that allows us to provide our residents with critical access to health care services.”

Falls Community Health accepts patients with all coverage options, including Medicaid, Medicare, private insurance, and no insurance. Discounts are also available through a sliding fee scale program for those who qualify. For medical appointments, call (605) 367-8793, and for dental appointments, call (605) 367-8022.