Primary care doctors and GI specialists practice very different types of medicine, but they have one major trait in common: they deeply care about the lives of their patients. So, how do those two diverse branches of medicine come together for the sake of a patient? Well, in Central Mississippi, one such opportunity is the GI Associates annual GiveBack Campaign.
What is GiveBack 2019?
On March 23, GI Associates held their sixth annual GiveBack Saturday. For the last six years, GI Associates has partnered with area primary care physicians to offer screening colonoscopies to patients without the means or opportunity to have scheduled one on their own. GI Associates’ employees volunteer their time and gather together one Saturday in March (which correlates with Colon Cancer Awareness Month) to see just under 50 patients. If you were to ask many of the staff, they would say it’s their favorite day of the year.
“Our primary care doctors are the first line of defense for colon cancer, so they have a whole host of patients that need help and they have trouble finding the resources to get this kind of thing done,” said Dr. Reed B. Hogan. “When a patient has a primary care doctor that cares enough to find him a way to get screened to prevent or diagnose an early colon cancer, it’s life saving. We like saving lives. This is our way of giving back to the community.”
Being referred for the campaign is the only difference the patient experiences. Each patient receives the same great level of care of any other patient that walks through the doors of one the GI Associates’ endoscopy centers. Any polyps that are found and removed are sent to pathology to determine if they are benign, precancerous, or cancerous. Without exception, each year at least one GiveBack patient has dangerous polyps removed, thus preventing colon cancer. Preventing cancer is really the single biggest advantage to a screening colonoscopy.
A Great Partnership
The physicians at GI Associates recognize the great work of the referring primary care physicians. It is the regular contact with a patient that can trigger concern about that patient’s colon health. Most symptoms of colon cancer are hard to detect—until the cancer has had time to take hold. The primary care doctor’s ability to know and recognize the risk factors and subtle symptoms of colorectal cancer is the push that patient may need to seek help. Saving lives, one patient at a time, happens when doctors work together to make colonoscopies attainable for people in need.