Gifford Healthcare,The Avon Breast Health Outreach Program has awarded a $40,000 grant for 2011 to Gifford Medical Center to increase awareness of the life-saving benefits of early detection of breast cancer.The Avon Breast Health Outreach supports community-based, non-profit breast health programs across the country and is part of the Avon Foundation for Women, the largest corporate philanthropy dedicated to women’s causes globally.This is the 10th consecutive year that Gifford’s Breast Health Program has received funding from the Foundation, resulting in a total of more than $380,000 invested regionally to increase awareness of the life saving benefits of mammograms and clinical breast exams.The only Vermont recipient, Gifford was selected as one of 126 grantees nationwide in 2011, when a total of $5.2 million was awarded. Organizations like Gifford are chosen based on their ability to effectively reach women, particularly minority, low-income and older women, who are often medically underserved.Through the grant, Gifford Breast Care Coordinator Jane Harrness travels the state speaking to women at events like the upcoming Vermont Farm Show in Barre, many of the state’s county fairs, senior centers, prisons, churches, women’s conferences and more spreading the message of early detection and sharing information on resources like Ladies First.Since Gifford first received the grant in 2002, it has provided more than 4,000 mammograms and more than 3,200 clinical breast exam through the program, and referred countless others to hospitals in their region of the state for care. In 2010 alone, Harrness spoke to nearly 6,500 Vermonters about having annual mammograms after age 40, annual clinical breast exams and doing self-breast exams so women know what is normal for them.Gifford’s program also expanded in 2010 to include a second breast care educator, radiology technologist Cheryl Manns. Additionally, Brittany Ward, also a radiology technologist, coordinates the hospital’s new Patient Care Navigator Program. This program is a resource for women facing breast biopsies following abnormal mammograms. Ward helps schedule appointments, answer questions and is with patients throughout the biopsy process.While most breast biopsies do not result in a cancer diagnosis, breast cancer is the most common form of cancer in women in the United States and in Vermont. It’s also the nation’s leading single cause of death overall in women between the ages of 40 and 55. According to the Vermont Department of Health, about 473 breast cancer cases are diagnosed among Vermont women each year. About 92 each year die from the disease.Nationwide, there is a new diagnosis every three minutes. While advances have been made in prevention, diagnosis, treatment and cure, early detection still affords the best opportunity for successful treatment. According to the Avon Foundation, programs such as Gifford’s help ensure that all women have access to early detection information and options, even poor and medically underserved women.Gifford representatives said they appreciate the strides the medical center has made thanks to the Avon Foundation’s fund raising efforts and generosity.‘We are so pleased that the Avon Foundation shares our mission of improving health and has chosen to support our program for a 10th consecutive year. This grant allows us to educate women on their breast cancer risk, help them access the health care system and ‘ perhaps most importantly in today’s busy society ‘ remind them to make their own health care a priority, for themselves and for their families,’ said Harrness.Since 1993, the Avon Foundation has awarded more than 1,425 grants and a total of nearly $60 million to community-based breast health programs across the United States. These programs are dedicated to educating underserved women about breast cancer and linking them to early detection screening services.***The Avon Foundation for Women and Breast Cancer CrusadeThe Avon Foundation for Women, an accredited 501(c)(3) public charity, was founded in 1955 to improve the lives of women and today is the world’s largest corporate-affiliated philanthropy focused on issues that matter most to women. Avon philanthropy focuses its funding on breast cancer research and access to care, efforts to reduce domestic and gender violence, its women’s environmental movement to nurture nature, and efforts to provide relief and recovery in times of major natural disasters and emergencies. Since the Avon Breast Cancer Crusade launched in 1992, Avon breast cancer programs in more than 50 countries have raised almost $700 million for research and advancing advance access to care, regardless of a person’s ability to pay. In addition to receiving generous support from Avon Products, Inc., and its sale of Avon ‘pink ribbon’ products, the Foundation raises funds through a variety of events and walks, such as the U.S. Avon Walk for Breast Cancer series, which is the Foundation’s largest fund-raising.The Avon Breast Health Outreach ProgramThe Avon Breast Health Outreach Program is administered by Cicatelli Associates Inc. to support community-based, non-profit breast health programs across the country. The Fund’s National Advisory Board selected the Breast Health Program at Gifford Medical Center as one of 126 grant recipients nationwide in the 2011 cycle of Avon Foundation Breast Care Fund grants. These organizations were chosen based on their ability to effectively reach women, particularly minority, low-income, and older women, who are often medically underserved.Gifford Medical CenterGifford Medical Center in Randolph, Vt., is a community hospital with family health centers in Bethel, Chelsea, Rochester and Sharon and specialty services throughout the central Vermont. Gifford is a full-service, non-profit hospital with a 24-hour emergency department, a 25-bed inpatient unit and a Transitional Care Unit. Gifford has a day care as well an adult day care and an award-winning 30-bed nursing home, the Menig Extended Care Facility, which opened in 1998 on the main campus. The Birthing Center, established in 1977, was the first in Vermont to offer an alternative to the traditional hospital-based deliveries and continues to be a leader in midwifery and family-centered care.Designated as a Critical Access Hospital, Gifford’s mission is to improve individuals’ and community health by providing and assuring access to affordable and high-quality health care in Gifford’s service area.