(Oakland, MD) – Making preventative health care screening more convenient, Garrett Regional Medical Center (GRMC) is offering direct access colonoscopies for qualifying patients. The service will potentially allow prospective patients to have the procedure without pre or post procedure appointments, enabling a more convenient screening process. Dr. Lynda Dougherty, a colorectal surgical specialist, is initiating the program at GRMC. Patients are cautioned, however, that their insurance must approve of the direct access process in order to participate.
Under the program, an individual or their primary care provider will submit forms for direct access screening including recent medical history. Once the forms are received, Dr. Dougherty will evaluate the medical information to ensure a candidate qualifies for the direct access program. Staff members will notify patients of qualification and any insurance requirements. The patient will then be scheduled for the colonoscopy.
“We want to make this screening more easily available for people in our service area,” says Kendra Thayer, Senior Vice President of Patient Care Services. “Patients often don’t get around to having a colonoscopy because traditionally it can require several doctor visits and referrals. The direct access program allows for people with relatively few health issues to be screened more quickly and conveniently. This could lead to more people being diagnosed at earlier stages of the disease.”
A colonoscopy is the most important test to use to detect colon cancer at an early stage, or to prevent it entirely through the removal of polyps that can, when left unattended, result in a cancerous growth. When found in its earliest stages, colon cancer is often curable. At the localized stage, before it has had a chance to spread, the 5-year survival rate of patients diagnosed with colon cancer is 91%, according to the American Society of Clinical Oncology. Early detection and treatment is the key to eliminating colon cancer as the second leading cause of cancer deaths in the United States.The Centers for Disease Control recommends that regular screenings for colorectal cancer start at the age of 50.
For more information or to receive a direct access screening packet, individuals may call 301-334-8282.