Silver City, New Mexico, February 8, 2013: Recently, the Grant County Community Health Council received a grant from the New Mexico Department of Health focused on cancer prevention.  The $17,474 grant continues the efforts by the Health Council, partnered with Gila Regional Medical Center, to expand cancer resources and services in rural southwest New Mexico.
Currently, cancer is the leading cause of death in Grant County, according to the New Mexico Mortality Data for 2009-2011. Lung, prostate, colorectal and breast cancer, respectively, claim the most lives in Grant County.  Though rural residents are at a lower risk of cancer, studies have found that rural cancer patients are diagnosed at later stages of the disease, which places them at greater risk of mortality.  Rural cancer patients are also less likely to receive referrals for support services than their urban counterparts.
The recently received grant will help train health care providers on appropriate cancer screening referrals for patients, and recommend rescreening for cancer survivors.  The grant will also fund a Southwest Area Community Cancer Coalition and rural issues work group, in conjunction with the New Mexico Cancer Council.  
Health Council Coordinator, Tiffany Knauf says, "This grant will allow us to continue and expand community work around cancer training and resource development, and expand on previous cancer grants and programs received by the Health Council, in partnership with Gila Regional Medical Center."
Previously, the Grant County Community Health Council has worked with University of New Mexico Cancer Center to found cancer resource libraries in Catron, Grant, Luna and Hidalgo counties with the help of their County Health Councils.   Grant County’s cancer resource library is located at 214 N. Black St. in Silver City, open from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., Monday through Friday, or by appointment.
The Health Council has also partnered with GRMC, New Mexico State University and, the renowned, Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center to create the cancer patient navigator program, Una Mano Amiga program, to aid patients with a cancer diagnosis to access financial and support services available.  GRMC has continued the cancer patient navigator program, because of its success with connecting cancer patients with resources.
Also, the Health Council has helped support the Grant County Prostate Support Group, which meets the third Thursday of every month, and hosted support groups for cancer survivors and caregivers.  In recent years, the Health Council sponsored the skin cancer prevention program Save Our Skin, with the New Mexico Department of Health.
To learn more about the GRMC Patient Navigator Program, attend the GRMC Heath Talk "I have Cancer. What’s My Next Step?" with Patient Navigators Kimberly Barragan and Rachel Benavidez,  on Wednesday, February 27, 2013, at 1 p.m. in the GRMC Conference Room, 1313 E. 32nd St.   For more information on the cancer resource library or the recently received grant, call the Health Council at (575) 388-1198 ext. 10.

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