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Community partnership provides new hope to Antrim County women

OCTOBER 11 – Antrim County has been known to have the highest breast cancer mortality rate in the state of Michigan. But this year, Antrim County High Tea – a grassroots volunteer organization dedicated to providing education and awareness of breast cancer issues to county residents, and raising funds toward detection and prevention – successfully reached 228 Antrim County women with free mammograms, through its partnership with the Health Department of Northwest Michigan.

Antrim County High Tea's Board President, Ed Huller, said the achievement surpassed his organization's goal to reach 214 women in Antrim County during the 2011-2012 fiscal year. He credits the Health Department and Antrim County High Tea's donors and volunteers with making it happen.

“This type of performance really speaks to the powerful impact that the unique partnership between a public and private organization can have in our community,” said Huller. “The numbers alone are compelling. We reached 228 women, versus only 40 during our first year in 2004. But there is so much more. There are more women returning year after year, and our educational efforts made a measurable impact on local awareness.”

Joy Klooster, coordinator of the Health Department's Breast and Cervical Cancer Program, noted that this year's screenings detected two cases of breast cancer among the Antrim County women. She said the early detection led to early treatment, and the women are surviving. She added that funds raised through Antrim County High Tea also make it possible for the Health Department to provide free gas cards to women coming in from Antrim County for their screening, to offset the financial burden of transportation.

Meanwhile, Huller hopes family members – particularly men – will encourage women to schedule mammograms. “Those trying to manage tight family budgets are quick to forego their own health care needs,” he observed. “So, guys, we need to step up and remind the women in our lives how important it is that they take care of themselves. Make sure they are aware of the importance of early detection. And, if insurance coverage is the problem, that's where we can help.” To learn more, visit

Collaboration and financial support from Antrim County High Tea and the Michigan Department of Community Health enable the Health Department to offer free annual exams, including pap smears and mammograms, all year long. Appointments are available in October. Call (800) 432-4121 to schedule today, or visit for more information. The Health Department of Northwest Michigan is mandated by the Michigan Public Health Code to promote wellness, prevent disease, provide quality healthcare, address health problems of vulnerable populations, and protect the environment for the residents and visitors of Antrim, Charlevoix, Emmet, and Otsego counties.