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Crozer Health Family Medicine Physician Receives Award for Work with Underserved Population


By Mary Wascavage


Letitia O’Kicki, M.D., Crozer Health Family Medicine physician and Medical Director of ChesPenn Health Services.

Crozer Health family medicine physician Letitia O’Kicki, M.D. and her team recently received an award from the American Cancer Society in recognition of their outstanding commitment to increasing colorectal cancer screening rates among underserved populations. O’Kicki also is a faculty member of Crozer Health’s Family Medicine Residency Program and Medical Director of ChesPenn Health Services.

ChesPenn Health Services, Inc. is a regional network of nonprofit Federally Qualified Health Centers that provides affordable and accessible primary health care services, regardless of income or insurance status.

O'Kicki and her team received the Project Award for Increasing Colon Cancer Screening from the American Cancer Society (ACS) at the Greater Philadelphia Volunteer Awards ceremony in late 2016. The ACS recognized the ChesPenn Center for Family Health at Upper Darby as one of the earliest supporters of its “80% by 2018” campaign to increase colorectal cancer screening rates.

O’Kicki’s program, which operated under a grant from the ACS and the Philadelphia Get Your Rear In Gear event, implemented several measurable project goals, some of which include:

  • Build a colorectal cancer screening program that maximizes patient engagement and adherence.
  • Educate a target patient population on the importance and methods of screening.
  • Improve access to low-cost screening and diagnostic colonoscopies.

O’Kicki and her team found that only 13.6 percent of eligible Upper Darby patients were up-to-date on their colorectal cancer screenings in 2013, and 17 percent in 2014. By working to reduce barriers — such as cost, cultural and language barriers, and fear — uninsured patients were screened and educated on the importance of screening.

As a result, ChesPenn’s Center for Family Health at Upper Darby increased screening rates from 17 percent in 2014 to 28 percent in 2016. In addition, the staff reached and educated more than 430 patients on the importance of screening.

“It was an honor to receive the award, and to work collaboratively with the American Cancer Society and the entire ChesPenn staff to make it happen,” O'Kicki says. “This was truly a team effort.”

The colorectal cancer screening program has been expanded to include all of ChesPenn’s health centers as part of its continuing efforts to provide preventive care. In order to accomplish this, ChesPenn is participating in a joint project between the American Cancer Society, the Cancer Prevention and Control Research Network at the University of Pennsylvania, and the Health Federation of Philadelphia to work toward the goal of reaching 80 percent of adults aged 50 and over for colorectal cancer screenings by 2018. This project provides Federally Qualified Health Centers with training, assistance with quality improvement, and support for implementing interventions.

The ChesPenn Center for Family Health at Upper Darby is lauded by Crozer Health Family Residency Program residents for providing a learning environment that offers enviable opportunities for case discussion and teaching. In addition to the colorectal cancer screening initiative, O’Kicki’s team has also provided community education on diabetes and is currently piloting a project for the American Cancer Society aimed at increasing HPV vaccination rates at the Upper Darby location.

For more information about the ChesPenn Center for Family Health at Upper Darby, call 610-352-6585.

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