Roswell Park Comprehensive Cancer Center and its partners are rolling out a new program that will increase access to cancer care by people living in remote or underserved communities. Among the populations on which this program will place emphasis are Western New York’s Indigenous communities.
The partnership, which includes the Indian Health Service (IHS) and geographically matched rural federally qualified health centers, will offer in-person and virtual prevention, screening, treatment and education services.
“Our primary goal of this is to focus on breast and prostate cancer, but also look at some of the more burdening co-occurring conditions that plague these communities, such as diabetes, hypertension, obesity, mental health, all the things that are even more compounded right now by the current situation,” said Dr. Kathryn Glaser, Assistant Professor of Oncology in Roswell Park's Department of Cancer Prevention.
The program also seeks to build trust in the healthcare system among the Indigenous populations.
“There's a lot of meaning beyond just the journey. There's a lot of cultural integrations in that journey too, that are perhaps different than a westernized view of medical care," said Dr. Rodney Haring, Assistant Professor of Oncology and Director of Roswell Park’s Center for Indigenous Cancer Research. "To have an indigenized or culturally sensitive approach to that is of the utmost importance for mind, body, soul and health overall.”
Haring added that many Natives will be among the program's navigators.
“We have a lot of brilliant, smart, beautiful Haudenosaunee people that are going to be part of this process of navigation," he said. "Our communities are just beautiful and full of knowledge in ways to help ourselves and continue on health and wellness. So, part of addressing that historical kind of medical mistrust perhaps is by doing things like this.”
The collaboration is funded by a $3.3 million grant from the Bristol Myers Squibb Foundation.