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Supporting cancer needs at the community level

The Community Partnership Program funds diversity of community-generated ideas to address burden of cancer across the state
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A medical professional uses a stethoscope to listen to a patient's heart. The Malheur County Health Department in Ontario, Oregon, protects and improves community well-being by preventing disease, illness, and injury. A goal of their newly funded Community Partnership Program project is to improve HPV vaccination rates among Malheur County adolescents; ages 13-17. (Courtesy)  
The Malheur County Health Department in Ontario, Oregon, protects and improves community well-being by preventing disease, illness, and injury. A goal of their newly funded Community Partnership Program project is to improve HPV vaccination rates among Malheur County adolescents; ages 13-17. (Courtesy)  

Since its inception in 2014, the OHSU Knight Cancer Institute’s Community Partnership Program has supported the development of collaborations with Oregon communities to address solutions for community-identified cancer needs.

Learn more about the projects funded.

The program over the past decade has invested nearly $7.7 million in 216 projects around Oregon, including the latest round of funding that will support 11 community-led projects.

Each funded organization will receive a grant ranging from $15,000 to $60,000 to work with its community on needs across the cancer continuum, from education to prevention to survivorship.  

Kerri Winters-Stone, Ph.D., has short brown hair and is smiling against a light blue/gray background.
Kerri Winters-Stone, Ph.D. (OHSU)

“The Community Partnership Program was designed to grow and change with the evolving needs of Oregon communities,” says Kerri Winters-Stone, Ph.D., co-director of the Community Partnership Program and a professor of medicine (oncological sciences) in the OHSU School of Medicine. “It’s so gratifying to see the diversity of ideas to help address the burden of cancer across our state, including several important projects aimed at raising awareness about the effectiveness of the HPV vaccine to help prevent six types of cancer.”

‘Protecting those who are most vulnerable to HPV’

HIV Alliance in Eugene was founded in 1994 to support people living with HIV/AIDS and prevent new HIV infections. Their prevention and care programs work to support and protect people living with and at-risk for HIV, and provide comprehensive support to respond to a variety of needs.

Their team plans to use the Community Partnership Program funds they received to conduct a needs assessment — using current patient data and surveying local patients and priority populations — to investigate the benefits of self-administered anal and cervical pap tests, as well as the benefits of HPV vaccinations for at-risk, underserved populations in Lane County. 

HIV Alliance’s medical director, Gail Hacker, M.D., says their organization has a long history of serving LGBTQIA+ people, and their team is “excited to begin the process of increasing equitable access to HPV cancer prevention services.”

"There is a significant need to protect those in our community who are most vulnerable to HPV and HPV-related cancers,” Hacker says. “Developing new strategies to prevent HPV-related oropharyngeal cancer is particularly needed today, as it has surpassed rates of cervical cancer, with no current options for screening or early detection.”

Preventing cancer through health literacy

The Malheur County Health Department in Ontario protects and improves community well-being by preventing disease, illness and injury and impacting social, economic and environmental factors that are fundamental to excellent health.

Their newly funded project is designed to improve HPV vaccination rates among Malheur County adolescents, aged 13 to 17. They plan to host outreach events that will provide education and promotion of the benefits of the vaccine.

Rebecca Stricker, RN, has long, wavy brown hair, a burgundy-color top and smiling in a garden area.
Rebecca Stricker, RN (Courtesy)

"Historically, our HPV vaccination rates have been low. Only 75% of adolescents start the series and 54% complete it,” says Rebecca Stricker, RN, interim director of Malheur County Health Department. “We are excited to be part of this grant project which will ultimately help us decrease cancer rates in our rural communities. Our goal is to educate more youth, and those who care for them, to increase HPV vaccine completion rates. " 

Funding projects across Oregon

The 11 organizations that received funding in this grant cycle include:

  • HIV Alliance: Preventing and identifying HPV-related cancers among at-risk LGBTQIA+ and houseless populations in Lane County.
  • The Wisco Institute: Breaking barriers: Bridging the gap in skin cancer care access for Central Oregon and surrounding rural communities.
  • Salem Free Clinics: Increasing cancer screening for vulnerable populations, especially among low-income, uninsured or underinsured women.
  • Centro Cultural of Washington County: Rutas de Prevencion para Cáncer (Route Toward Cancer Prevention).
  • Togo Community Organization of Oregon: Education on Cancer Symptoms, Risk Factors and Early Detection.
  • Asante Physician Partners, General Surgery: Overcoming Barriers to Care for Rural Esophageal Cancer Patients.    
  • Komak: Expanding Komak's Service by Developing a Volunteer Program and a Cancer Resource Catalog.
  • Malheur County Health Department: Improve HPV Uptake among Malheur County Adolescents (ages 13-17).
  • Independent Living Resources: Assessment and Education Reducing Disability Disparities in Cancer Screening and Prevention.
  • UKANDU: Addressing Socio-emotional Health for Parents and Caregivers of Childhood Cancer Survivors and Patients through Support Groups.
  • Urban League of Portland: Conquering Cancer Campaign (Educating the Community for Change).

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