Tuesday, October 3, 2023
Tuesday, October 3, 2023

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Gilda’s Club Twin Cities Launches Oncology-Focused Initiative to Reach Medically Underserved Communities Via FCC’s Affordable Connectivity Program

Gilda’s Club Twin Cities, part of the Cancer Support Community (CSC) global non-profit network providing free social and emotional support for everyone impacted by cancer, announced a new initiative to improve access to cancer support and education, especially among individuals at higher risk of developing cancer residing in urban and rural settings in Minnesota. In a highly unique approach to connecting with medically underserved people, Gilda’s Club Twin Cities is working with Equiva, a digital health platform provider that recently launched its Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP)-centric solution.
Launched by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) in December 2021, the ACP is a $14.2 billion benefit program that helps ensure households can afford the broadband they need for work, school, healthcare and more.
Use of tele-mental health services experienced rapid growth during the COVID-19 pandemic. However, disparities in access to broadband and usage were also exposed. As Gilda’s Club Twin City looks beyond the pandemic, they see an opportunity to continue to leverage tele-mental health services in a way that breaks down barriers to care and advances health equity.
Through Equiva’s ACP-centric solution, the organizations are collaborating to ensure eligible households get FCC discounts of up to $30 per month toward internet service (up to $75 per month for Tribal lands) and that each household enrolled by Gilda’s Club Twin Cities receives a tablet device preloaded with digital access to virtual cancer support groups, healthy lifestyle education, cancer treatment information, and other resources. It also includes the clinically validated Cancer Support Source® distress, depression and anxiety screener, which will allow Gilda’s Club Twin Cities to identify individuals who could benefit from emotional support services or resource referrals.
To help enroll ACP-eligible households across Minnesota, Gilda’s Club Twin Cities is making impacted individuals, healthcare providers, and community organizations aware of the ACP. Additionally, they are educating these constituents about their collaboration with Equiva and their efforts to deliver oncology- specific digital offerings to at-risk individuals.
“It’s estimated that 34,380 people will be diagnosed with cancer this year across Minnesota. Through this first-of-its-kind initiative, we can reach even more people impacted by cancer with valuable resources that can help contribute to improved outcomes,” said Katherine Todd, DNP, MBA, RN, Gilda’s Club Twin Cities executive director. “We’re proud to be the first of several CSC network partners to embrace this novel program to grow community and to deliver social and emotional support to those who otherwise may not have access.”
According to research from the Commonwealth Fund, some people from racial and ethnic minority groups experience higher rates of poor health for several conditions, including cancer. Additionally, CDC studies show that people living outside urban areas have lower cancer survival rates than those residing in urban areas, and that only 25% of rural healthcare professionals think their patients have adequate access to mental health services.
“We’re not familiar with another program of this kind serving population health needs. It uniquely couples proven digital health engagement technology with a federally supported broadband connectivity program, in a framework that helps providers and payors advance health equity via a platform empowering cost-effective and cohesive deployment of care management services,” said Equiva Health CEO and co-founder Nir Altman. “We’re pleased to collaborate with Infinti Mobile, an FCC participating wireless service provider, to help Minnesota residents connect to the ACP and the Gilda’s Club Twin Cities community.”
With 190 partner locations worldwide including Gilda’s Club Twin Cities, the Washington, DC- headquartered CSC recently announced a digital health partnership with Equiva. Together, the organizations support President Joe Biden’s Cancer Moonshot initiative’s goal to cut the cancer death rate by at least 50% over the next 25 years and to improve the experience of people and families living with and surviving cancer.
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