Gifford Healthcare,RANDOLPH – Gifford Medical Center has been awarded an Avon Foundation Breast Care Fund grant for the eighth consecutive year. The only hospital in the state to receive the national award, Gifford has been granted $40,000 for 2009 to increase awareness of the life-saving benefits of early detection of breast cancer.The Avon Foundation Breast Care Fund supports community-based, non-profit breast health programs across the country. Gifford was selected as one of 144 grant recipients nationwide. Organizations are chosen based on their ability to effectively reach women, particularly minority, low-income and older women, who are often medically underserved.In 2008, Gifford, through the Avon Foundation’s generosity, reached 4,285 women during educational visits, a total estimated audience of more than 200,000 with the help of the media, and scheduled 571 women for mammograms – all numbers that significantly exceeded prior years.Gifford’s outreach is done primarily by Breast Care Coordinator Jane Harrness, a mammography technologist, who speaks around the state about the importance of annual mammograms in detecting breast cancer early.The grant – designated for outreach and education – makes her work possible.”Gifford is proud and thankful to receive this grant. It is an immeasurable gift,” Harrness said. “We can help women access the health care system and learn the importance of taking care of themselves. Women are so thankful for the information on breast health that I am able to give them.”Gifford and Harrness have historically used the funding to outreach to women where they live, work and socialize. That has meant numerous visits to senior centers and senior living facilities, public events and conferences, and Vermont’s women’s prisons and halfway houses.Instrumental in Harrness’ efforts in 2008 was attendance at many of the state’s county fairs and the Vermont Farm Show in Barre – events that typically draw rural Vermonters.This year, attendance at rural happenings, like the state’s fairs and this month’s farm show, will continue to be part of the hospital’s ongoing efforts to educate medically underserved women in Randolph, central Vermont and statewide – including a population of French-Canadian women living in the rural Northeast Kingdom – on the importance of mammograms and clinical breast exams.The grant award also serves as a resource and motivation to reach media outlets with advertisements, public service announcements and news stories regarding breast health.Among Gifford’s messages of late are promoting the state’s new affordable mammogram law, which went into effect on Oct. 1 and limited the out-of-pocket cost for a woman age 40 and over with Vermont insurance to just $25 or less.The Randolph hospital is also a supporter of the Love/Army for Women, a national effort to have women sign up for breast cancer research initiatives. Any woman, except those in active cancer treatment, is encouraged to join at www.armyofwomen.org(link is external). The program includes e-mail alerts on upcoming scientific studies. Women who fit the parameters of a study are invited to participate.Breast cancer is the most frequently diagnosed cancer in U.S. women, and the single leading cause of death overall in women between the ages of 40 and 55.In Vermont last year, an estimated 470 new cases of female breast cancer cases were diagnosed and 90 women died from the disease, according to the American Cancer Society.Nationwide, there is a new diagnosis of breast cancer every three minutes and a death every 14 minutes.While advances – including the new Love/Army of Women research strategy – have been made in prevention, diagnosis, treatment and working toward a cure for breast cancer, early detection still affords the best opportunity for successful treatment. According to the Avon Foundation, programs such as Gifford’s help ensure that all women, including the poor and medically underserved, have access to early detection information and options.Since 1993, the Avon Foundation has awarded more than 1,100 grants to community-based breast health programs across the United States. These programs are dedicated to educating underserved women about breast cancer and linking them to early detection screening services.The Avon Foundation and Breast Cancer CrusadeThe Avon Foundation, an accredited 501(c)(3) public charity, was founded in 1955 to improve the lives of women and their families. Now past the half century milestone, the Foundation brings this mission to life through the Speak Out Against Domestic Violence program and the Avon Breast Cancer Crusade, which raises funds and awareness to advance access to care and finding a cure for breast cancer, with a focus on the medically underserved. Since 1992 the Avon Breast Cancer Crusade has raised and awarded more than $525 million worldwide for medical research, access to care, support services, screening and diagnostics, and education and awareness. The largest fundraising program in the United States is the Avon Walk for Breast Cancer series.The Avon Foundation Breast Care FundThe Avon Foundation Breast Care Fund is administered by Cicatelli Associates Inc. to support community-based, non-profit breast health programs across the country. The Fund’s National Advisory Board selected the breast health program at Gifford Medical Center as one of 144 grant recipients nationwide in 2009. These organizations were chosen based on their ability to effectively reach women, particularly minority, low-income and older women, who are often medically underserved.Gifford Medical CenterGifford Medical Center in Randolph, Vt., is a community hospital with family health centers in Bethel, Chelsea, Rochester and Sharon and specialty services throughout the region. Gifford is a full-service hospital with a 24-hour emergency department, a 25-bed inpatient unit and a Transitional Care Unit. Gifford has a day care as well an adult day care and a 30-bed nursing home, the Menig Extended Care Facility, which opened in 1998 on the main campus. The Birthing Center, established in 1977, was the first in Vermont to offer an alternative to the traditional hospital-based deliveries and continues to be a leader in midwifery and family-centered care.The hospital’s mission is to improve individuals’ and community health by providing and assuring access to affordable and high-quality health care in Gifford’s service area.For more InformationFor more information on breast care at Gifford, call Breast Care Coordinator Jane Harrness at (802) 728-2317. For more information about breast cancer, contact the American Cancer Society at 1-800-ACS-2345 or www.cancer.org(link is external), or the National Cancer Institute at 1-800-4-CANCER or www.cancer.gov(link is external).To learn more about the Avon Foundation, call 1-866-505-AVON or visit www.avonfoundation.org(link is external), where you can also access the free printable Breast Health Resource Guide in English and Spanish. For information or to register or support the Avon Walk for Breast Cancer events, visit www.avonwalk.org(link is external) or call 1-888-540-WALK.