Memphis health clinic has highest cervical cancer screening rates

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — A health clinic in Memphis has some of the highest screening rates for cervical cancer across the country, according to national screening data.

Church Health has been offering care for people in our community without insurance for decades.

“I think a lot of people don’t realize that the person who cuts your grass, cleans your house, or washes your dishes, for the most part, they are uninsured,” Dr. Scott Morris, the founder, and CEO of Church Health said.

Working low-wage jobs with no access to health insurance is a population Dr. Morris said is growing in Memphis.

“Sadly, Memphis is one of the poorest major cities in America,” he said. “About 15 percent of our population is uninsured.”

Dr. Morris said about 85 percent of his clinic’s patients fall into that category.

He said oftentimes, people without health insurance aren’t diagnosed with cancer until it’s too late, so his clinic came up with a process to help with early detection.

“Every patient that walks through our front door, even if they just come in with a cold or sore throat, we ask what are there screening statutes for cervical cancer or colon cancer, and all things that can be prevented,” Dr. Morris said.

As a result, Dr. Morris said 58% of Church Health’s patients are up to date with their screenings for cervical cancer, which is cancer more common in women of color.

“The largest percentage of women who are diagnosed are Latino and Hispanic,” Dr. Morris said. “The largest percentage of women who die are African American. That is a direct reflection of the issues of being uninsured and having no access to prevention.”

Dr. Morris said early detection is critical.

If you are a woman between the ages of 21 to 65, the CDC recommends getting a pap smear every three years.

If you are between the ages of 30 to 65, you should receive a pap smear in combination with HPV testing every five years.