Health Workers Launch Program to Educate Inmates on Breast Health

Shown l-r; Dawn Eaton, Dr. Robin Williams, and Kathy Serfass are pictured below just outside the Tennessee Prison for Women Transition Center.

NASHVILLE, TN — On January 25, inmates at the Tennessee Prison for Women Transition Center attended a 1-hour course on breast health led by Dawn Eaton, CEO of Susan G. Komen of Central Tennessee; Dr. Robin Williams, a breast surgeon affiliated with Saint Thomas Medical Partners; and RN Kathy Serfass of Saint Thomas Midtown Hospital. Hosted in coordination with Kairos Prison Ministry, this special outreach effort was the inaugural event of what Eaton, Williams, and Serfass hope to make an annual program. 

Dawn Eaton said, “Our goal in launching this program is to educate women in prison about breast cancer and demystify facts and myths so that they are better educated about their bodies and what they can do to be proactive in managing their breast health.” Koman’s commitment to educating the women of Middle Tennessee, including those who are incarcerated, aligns well with the Ascension Saint Thomas vision for deconstructing barriers to affordable, accessible health education. As a breast surgeon affiliated with Saint Thomas Medical Partners, Dr. Robin Williams focuses on providing comprehensive care that extends far beyond the walls of the operating room. Patients are offered a preoperative course that explains what to expect during and after surgery, as well as free access to amenities like yoga and cooking classes through the Saint Thomas Cancer Care Center. 

For Kathy Serfass, the prison outreach program felt like a natural extension of her role as a Saint Thomas Midtown nurse navigator. Kathy and her fellow nurse navigators work to make cancer a less isolating diagnosis for patients by serving as companions throughout the treatment process. In addition to reiterating treatment plans and helping patients set preoperative expectations, nurse navigators help patients consider their holistic well-being. 

Of course, by partnering to make breast health education available to women who have not yet experienced a cancer diagnosis, Ascension Saint Thomas and Komen hope to help more women recognize symptoms earlier and seek treatment in earlier stages. 

For additional information about this joint effort to reduce the rate of breast cancer fatalities in Middle Tennessee, contact me at anjali.sood@ascension.org. 

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