(Photo by J. Fusco for Visit Philadelphia)
Three organizations across the fields of healthcare, technology and education are partnering to provide health services and cancer clinical trials to West Philly neighborhoods that have been historically left out of receiving and participating in them.
California-based Lazarex Cancer Foundation (LCF), Drexel University and King of Prussia-based Greenphire, a clinical trial payment solutions company, will partner for a community-based initiative to get residents with cancer to participate in the trials at higher rates.
LCF provides assistance with costs for FDA clinical trial participation, identifies clinical trial options and does community outreach and engagement for folks with late-stage cancer, said founder Dana Dornsife.
Dornsife created the IMPACT program in 2013 aimed at removing financial barriers to clinical trial participation for patients. Since then, the foundation has increased enrollments in clinical trials and doubled the amount of people of color participating in the trials in the cities where it’s rolled out the program, she said.
“For folks who want to use [clinical trials] as their last hope, they’re already going through the burden of researching what clinical trial options are out there, and to add to it, there can be a lot of out-of-pocket expenses” to participate, Dorsnife said.
Last year, Dorsnife partnered with Drexel University to bring the Community IMPACT program to West Philly neighborhoods in the Federal Promise Zone. The goal was for a clinic out of the Dornsife Center for Neighborhood Partnerships — the founding of which Dornsife and her husband, David, also financially supported — to address and assist in treating major health concerns of its surrounding neighborhoods, namely Mantua and West Powelton.
Dr. Loretta Jemmott, Drexel’s VP of health and health equity and a professor in the College of Nursing and Health Professions, became essential to the project, Dorsnsife said, because of her work on an initiative called “We’re here because we care” to identify and address health and wellness concerns in the Promise Zone neighborhoods.
Some concerns that routinely came forward from the community members who participated in the initiative’s work were chronic diseases, behavioral health, sexual health, environmental health, access to care, healthy foods and access to physical activity, Jemmott said.
“The approach that we’re doing right now is critical to the other work,” Jemmott said. “Without understanding the barriers to care, we will not get anything changed. We’ll spend time with the folks, then develop the messages and show we care about them in a complete way.”
The clinic will offer check-ups and routine blood pressure screenings as well as give residents access to doctors and trial recruiters to share information about different healthcare options.
“This takes time to build trust, it’s not something that can be done overnight,” Jemmott said. “The groundwork has already been paved for us to go back in and talk about cancer.”
Greenphire’s ClinCard will also offer support navigating the healthcare system with quick reimbursement for those who do participate in trials via a reloadable debit card. This part of the partnership comes into play in the fall, offering quicker reimbursements than traditional repayment plans. Folks can upload receipts for travel, parking or any other out-of-pocket costs associated with participating in a clinical trial.
Greenphire CEO Jim Murphy said his company usually works directly with the pharma companies that are administering the clinical trials, not nonprofits like LCF and Drexel. But Greenphire’s mission with this partnership is to eliminate the socioeconomic barriers associated with getting into a clinical trial.
“We’re more of a mechanism of enabling those barriers [to be] reduced,” Murphy said.
Dorsnife said the collaboration will essentially open up the range of who knows about and is able to participate in healthcare and potentially lifesaving clinical trials.
“It can literally be what’s standing between them and living,” she said.-30-
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