Congratulations to ABOH’s $10,000 Lung Screening Winners!

Abbie Begnaud, Pulmonologist (MD) and Asst Professor of Medicine, University of Minnesota.

abbie-begnaudThe Lung Cancer Screening program at the University of Minnesota is a comprehensive, patient-centered program offering participation in active research and assistance with smoking cessation. Like many programs, our accessibility is limited by lack of uniform insurance coverage. We have a competitive out-of-pocket price ($99) for all eligible patients. But unlike other programs, the University of Minnesota screening program is the only in the state of Minnesota designated a center of excellence by the Lung Cancer Alliance. Centers of Excellence provide evidence-based care with a multidisciplinary approach, including participation in ongoing research as well as smoking cessation tools for current smokers. Our dedicated thoracic oncology group consists of pulmonologists, oncologists, radiologists, surgeons and nurses who devote themselves to lung and thoracic cancers.

Based on our screening exam costs, a budget of $10,000 (ABOH grant) would provide screening to 101 patients. However, we can help even more patients by processing insurance claims on insured patients who are unable to afford out of pocket costs. Some insurance carriers will reimburse screening exams in certain patients and for these, our institution can be reimbursed. Therefore, patients will not have the anxiety or hassle of wondering whether this will occur and if it does,we have the grant money available to screen another patient.

Gopal Punjabi, Radiologist (MD), Hennepin County Medical Center.

punjabi-gopalHCMC will use their $10,000 ABOH grant to support the costs of low dose computed tomography lung screenings for American Indian people. Gopal Punjabi, a physician in HCMC’s Department of Radiology, will serve as project director. The entire grant of $10,000 will be used to pay for the low dose CT scans for up to 100 patients; at present, HCMC offers these screenings to people for $99 each. Eligible to participate in the proposed grant-funded screenings would be American Indian people ages 55-79, who have at least 30 pack years of smoking (1 pack/day for 30 years, 2 packs/day for 15 years, etc.), OR those who meet the above criteria but quit fewer than 15 years ago. The goal is to find lung cancer in early stages when it is easier to treat.

According to the American Indian Adult Tobacco Survey 2013–Twin Cities Urban Area, “59% of American Indian adults surveyed are current smokers (compared to 16% of all Minnesota adults).” Therefore, HCMC has also begun a relationship with the American Indian Cancer Foundation to provide in kind staff participation in the development of project outreach materials, on-the-ground outreach and follow-up efforts. Like ABOH, HCMC is motivated to help people who experience both health disparities and disparities in screening. AICAF staff will help answer patient questions, provide support in overcoming barriers to screening, and promoting/supporting smoking cessation.