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Women Urge City To Keep Mammogram Program Open

CHICAGO (CBS) -- A group of female Chicago aldermen, health care workers, and breast cancer survivors on Thursday urged the Chicago Department of Public Health not to close the program that provides mammograms to thousands of women every year.

Ald. Pat Dowell (3rd), a breast cancer survivor, and colleagues Carrie Austin (34th) and Emma Mitts (37th) were among city officials who say terminating the Breast Health Program would result in the closure of four mammography screening sites. The locations provide screening to nearly 5,000 women without health insurance, many of whom are also low-income and minority women.

The group highlighted the breast cancer mortality rate for African American women at 62 percent higher than that of white women. Additionally, the group said only 40 percent of women without health insurance receive the recommended mammogram screenings.

The possibility of privatizing mammograms now offered at city sites like the Roseland Clinic doesn't sit well with patient Deborah Horne.

"It's one of the only ways I could get one and women like me," she tells CBS 2's Derrick Blakley.

Breast cancer survivor Sharon Coleman fears privatizing the clinics will only make that disparity worse.

CDPH leadership said it is shuttering the program, because of a state grant terminated by the Illinois Department of Public Health, due to management issues that went consistently unaddressed.

The Public Health Organization, which hosted Thursday's news conference, said it believes the city should continue funding the program while correcting the mismanagement issues raised by the IDPH.


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