News Release

December 1, 2008

Contact: Chris DeFrancesco, 860-679-3914

Pilot Program Providing Colonoscopies to the Underserved

State Grant Partners UConn Health Center With Community Health Centers

FARMINGTON, CONN. – An estimated 600 uninsured or underinsured Connecticut residents will be screened for colorectal cancer over the next year as part of a pilot program in which the University of Connecticut Health Center is a primary partner.

“The colonoscopy is a major prevention tool, but not everyone has access,” says Dr. Joseph C. Anderson, clinical director of the UConn Health Center’s Colon Cancer Prevention Program. “The more people we can screen, the more people we can help. Polyps in the colon will become cancerous whether you have insurance or not. People who can’t afford a colonoscopy also can’t afford to not get screened.”

Anderson, who was lead endoscopist in a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention-funded program in 2005 while at Stony Brook University Medical Center in Long Island, and who was a key adviser to a similar undertaking by the South Carolina Gastroenterological Association, is serving as medical director of the Connecticut Colorectal Cancer Screening Demonstration Project and is among the physicians providing the colonoscopies.

Eight community health centers throughout the state will refer eligible patients to participating endoscopists depending on their location. Patient data will be collected and appropriate follow-up referrals will be provided.

“The goal is to promote, improve and optimize the appropriate use of high-quality colorectal cancer screening and follow-up services, and eliminate or decrease racial, ethnic and socioeconomic disparities in access to these screenings,” says Jennifer Granger, chief operating officer of the Community Health Center Association of Connecticut, which received a $951,379 grant from the Connecticut Department of Public Health for the project.

State funding for the grant was available through the Connecticut Cancer Partnership, a coalition working toward the goals of reducing the burden of cancer and improving the quality of life of those with cancer. In addition to providing colonoscopies, the pilot project aims to educate the public and provide outreach and training to the participating community health centers.

“When you break down barriers to preventative medicine, the result is a healthier public,” says Public Health Commissioner Dr. J. Robert Galvin. “We are pleased to partner with community health centers and the University of Connecticut Health Center on this important initiative, which will surely result in saved lives.”

The UConn Health Center will receive up to $353,206, which will cover the costs of reimbursement for cancer screenings, Anderson’s medical directorship and program quality oversight, training and education, and data collection and analysis.

“Dr. Anderson has led the effort to bring this crucial program to Connecticut,” says Dr. Carolyn D. Runowicz, director of the Health Center’s Carole and Ray Neag Comprehensive Cancer Center. “He is a top expert in colon cancer prevention, and prevention is what this is all about. We could almost eradicate colon cancer if only more people were screened.”

The community health center partners are Community Health Services in Hartford, StayWell Health Center in Waterbury, Fair Haven Community Health Center in New Haven, Hill Health Center in New Haven, Southwest Community Health Center in Bridgeport, Optimus Health Care in Stamford, Generations Family Health Center in Willimantic, and the Community Health and Wellness Center of Torrington. The other participating endoscopists are in New Haven, Bridgeport, Stamford, Willimantic and Torrington.

The Community Health Center Association of Connecticut is a not-for-profit service organization dedicated to strengthening and supporting the clinical and administrative operations of its member community health centers. Its mission is to enable federally qualified health centers to provide Connecticut’s underserved citizens access to the highest quality health care and social services. More information about the Connecticut Colorectal Cancer Screening Demonstration Program is available at

Caption: Dr. Joseph C. Anderson of the UConn Health Center is medical director of the Connecticut Colorectal Cancer Screening Demonstration Project, which will provide colonoscopies for as many as 600 underserved Connecticut residents.

UConn Health includes the schools of medicine and dental medicine, the UConn Medical Group, University Dentists, and John Dempsey Hospital. Home to Bioscience Connecticut, UConn Health pursues a mission of providing outstanding health care education in an environment of exemplary patient care, research and public service. More information about UConn Health is available at

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