Portsmouth Regional Hospital February 23, 2011

Portsmouth, NH, Feb. 23, 2011 - Among cancers that affect both men and women, colorectal cancer is the second leading cause of death. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control says 60 percent of those deaths could be avoided if everyone age 50 and over had regular screening tests.

That's why three physicians from the Gastroenterology Professional Association practice in Portsmouth are teaming up with Families First Health and Support Center to provide free colonoscopies to low-income and uninsured or underinsured patients. On three Saturdays in March, at Portsmouth Regional Hospital, Drs. Jaimie Baquero, Aristotle Damianos and Roger Epstein and will donate their time to provide colonoscopies to for eligible patients who have been referred by a primary-care physician at Families First or another primary-care practice.

Dr. Epstein states "Colon cancer is preventable and curable if screening guidelines are adhered to. Dartmouth Hitchcock currently has a grant to make screening exams affordable to NH residents but eligible people from the Seacoast would have to travel to take advantage of their program. We wanted to provide for those who may otherwise slip through the cracks of the healthcare system by removing as many obstacles as possible."

Nurses from Families First Health & Support Center, the community health center in Portsmouth, will help by screening patients for financial and clinical eligibility and providing phone support to help each patient prepare for the screening.

Also supporting the program through donated products and services are Dr. Sonya Schwaergerle and Atlantic Pathology PA, Converge lab, Dan Gore and Salix Pharmaceutical and Drew James and Boston Scientific.

New Hampshire residents over age 50 who are uninsured or underinsured and think they may be eligible for a free screening based on their income should contact their primary care physician for a referral a program. Those who don't have a primary care physician are invited to contact Families First to establish care, at 603-422-8208 ext. 1.

Margie Wachtel
Families First

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