Inspira Health earns statewide praise for outstanding rural health impact

The New Jersey Department of Health recently recognized Inspira Health for its collaborative efforts to achieve health equity by expanding access to care and improving the health of residents living in rural communities of southern New Jersey.

New Jersey’s nearly 1 million rural residents encompass 10% of the state’s population, living in small towns and farming communities.

During a visit to the Leading-Edge Cancer Center at Inspira Medical Center Mullica Hill, NJDOH officials including Dr. Omolola Taiwo, executive director of the Office of Primary Care and Rural Health, Damon Koslow, program manager, and Marisol Meyer, rural health project officer, recognized the work of Inspira’s Cancer Grants team, which oversees and provides free cancer screening programs to the underserved, facilitates free tobacco cessation services, provides education on chronic disease prevention and offers free transportation to help eligible patients get to their appointments, screenings and treatments.

The Cancer Grants team also has improved access to health care by providing a community outreach worker to help residents overcome language barriers and technology challenges, obtain prescriptions, schedule appointments and complete screenings.

“Today we are recognizing the work of Inspira Health, and particularly its Cancer Grants team, for increasing access to cancer screenings and care, tobacco cessation support and health education throughout our South Jersey counties,” Taiwo said. “We look forward to our continued partnership and achieving even greater outcomes by working together on local, state and national initiatives. Inspira’s unwavering commitment to rural communities truly fosters better health and quality of life.”

Rural communities have their own unique health care challenges, which can often result in poor health outcomes. Within New Jersey, Cumberland and Salem counties have large rural populations and regularly score poorly on health outcome measures, including tobacco use cancer prevalence and mortality rates.

Through the New Jersey Cancer Education and Early Detection program, Inspira provided more than 1,200 free cancer screenings in Cumberland, Gloucester and Salem counties in fiscal year 2022, and that number increased to more than 1,300 in 2023.

Starting in June of this year, the Cancer Grants team collaborated with Inspira’s imaging partner, Atlantic Medical Imaging, to bring a mobile mammography van into the community.

“Our Cancer Grants team has made it a priority to understand and address the unique barriers to care faced by residents of our rural communities,” Amy Mansue, CEO and president, Inspira Health said. “We have been able to successfully collaborate with our community partners on these important initiatives.”

“Inspira has developed strategies to help diminish some of the barriers that prevent people from getting the care they need — whether it’s cancer screenings, support for quitting tobacco or even getting to their appointments,” Donald Noblet, Cancer Grants manager for Inspira Health, said. “And our work with the Region 10 Chronic Disease Coalition also focuses on making sure health care services are accessible and affordable for residents of our rural communities.

“Through a combination of patient navigation, provider education and patient incentives, we’ve been able to increase cancer screening completion rates. And we look to expand our partnerships even further to assist more people living in our rural areas.”