Breast cancer, teen smoking and domestic violence will be among ills targeted by Health Care Plan under a new $1 million health and wellness program announced Monday.
"This is not an information and awareness campaign, this is an action plan to actually improve the health of our community," declared Dr. Arthur R. Goshin, founding president and chief executive officer of the 20-year-old health-maintenance organization.
Goshin said the program will be for the entire community as well as the 158,000 members of Health Care Plan's various programs.
To be offered through a package of programs known as the Center for Better Health, the prevention program also will strive to reduce heart disease, illnesses associated with aging and diabetes. Programs will be implemented periodically beginning next month.
To improve the health of Western New Yorkers, Goshin said the health-maintenance organization "will partner with the area's finest professionals, programs and institutions" and will build on existing state and federally funded programs.
The first effort, Goshin said, will be aimed at reducing breast cancer in women through a program called "Buddy Check 2," which was created in partnership with WGRZ-TV, Channel 2.
Under the program, women will be encouraged to pair with friends or family members who will remind them monthly to perform a self examination of their breasts, get an annual mammogram and have an annual breast examination by a physician.
"It's a motivational program. We won't eliminate cancer in 1998 but we will start on it," Goshin said. "Over time it is our intention to reduce the incidence of cancer in Western New York.
Goshin said efforts to discourage teen-agers from lighting up the first time will be launched through commercials aired on television programs that attract teen audiences. In addition, there will be programs aimed at persuading smoking teens to kick the habit for the sake of good health.
Health Care Plan will tackle domestic violence by raising the level of awareness about the problem both within the community and within the medical profession.
The program will help physicians identify victims of domestic violence and provide them with information to help them channel individuals and families "to programs and services that exist but are not being effectively used," Goshin said.
The Center for Better Health is modeled on HealthPartners, a program based in Minneapolis, which has set out to reduce heart attacks by 25 percent in its service area. One of its achievements has been to persuade 200 restaurants to offer low-fat meals.
The Minneapolis health maintenance organizatIon also pays bonuses to clinics for improving the health of HealthPartners' patients they serve.
"We will set specific goals and objectives," Goshin said. "We think there is a lot of preventable illness."