TYLER — East Texas Medical Center Tyler has been selected to receive the Texas Hospital Association’s 2012 Excellence in Community Service Award in recognition of its highly successful East Texas Pin-A-Sister breast cancer awareness campaign. The award was presented Wednesday at the THA 2013 Annual Conference and Expo in Austin. “ETMC Tyler has demonstrated a long-standing commitment to improve the health of every member of its community, and this program ensures engagement in a unique and interesting way,” said Dan Stultz, M.D., FACP, FACHE, THA president/chief executive officer.
Regina Davis, director of ETMC’s Breast Care Center, became interested in developing a program like Pin-A-Sister after the local chapter of Susan G. Komen for the Cure released results of a study conducted in Smith County. The data revealed that African-American women in the community had significantly higher rates of breast cancer than other women. Worse, these women also tended to present with later-stage breast disease and had a much higher mortality rate.
Part of the problem was the messaging. Traditional advertisements promoting mammograms rarely included a multicultural perspective; even when they did, they still were not’t enough to get women to go to the area’s three breast care centers. “The church is the main cog of the African-American community, and that’s where we needed to go to launch a grassroots effort,” said Davis. “Black women simply weren’t going to come to our breast care centers.”
In 2010, ETMC Tyler launched its Pin-A-Sister program in Tyler. Modeled after a program in Chicago, the campaign uses a strategy that has long been successful in the African-American community: Get the church involved. Breast cancer survivors provide personal testimonies at their home churches through East Texas Pin-A-Sister. In addition, churches host Pin-A-Sister ceremonies in which participating women pin each other with pink ribbons and pledge to take better care of themselves by getting annual screening mammograms. To date, 6,500 African-American women in Smith County have been pinned.
“We are honored to receive this award, and we are excited to share the enthusiasm and results East Texas Pin-A-Sister has generated within our community,” said Elmer G. Ellis, FACHE, ETMC Tyler president/chief executive officer.