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Massey hosts community outreach meeting in Petersburg to promote cancer health equity

Feb 13, 2024

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On Jan. 25, VCU Massey Comprehensive Cancer Center's office of Community Outreach and Engagement (COE) hosted the largest Allies in Health for Underserved Groups (AHUG) meeting to date at the Petersburg Public Library. Led by Tina Fonteneau, 40 individuals attended the meeting, representing 34 organizations. Over the course of the first six months of AHUG, approximately 150 individuals from local organizations have attended one or more of the monthly meetings.

The AHUG meetings connect stakeholders from local service, nonprofits and health care organizations in Petersburg and across the Tri-Cities, including Colonial Heights, Hopewell, Sussex and Greensville Counties. They offer opportunities for bi-directional information sharing and promoting Massey's community outreach and engagement and research efforts related to cancer health equity, cancer prevention and early detection, and navigation services for cancer screenings and treatment, including clinical trials.

AHUG held its inaugural meeting in the summer of 2023, now occurring monthly with a growing list of attendance and interest. The time spent in trust-building communicative conversation and relationships with local/regional partners offers an opportunity to collectively work together in dialogue to address social determinants of health access to care barriers and strategies to address them for the most vulnerable populations. 

The meeting serves as a vehicle to promote cancer prevention education (ways to lower one's risk, including healthy habits and limiting harmful exposures such as tobacco/smoking cessation) and linking to early detection (cancer screenings) through navigation services offered by the COE office. AHUG meeting attendees are encouraged to come to the discussion ready to share their work and network connections with other like-minded organizations in the region.

Also, faculty and staff from other offices across Massey and VCU are encouraged to attend and build on the relationships with partners in the region. The relationships formed from these regular meetings help facilitate action to holistic and sustained approaches to meet the needs of the communities we serve. To date, staff from Facts and Faith Friday, Massey’s Integrated Health program and the VCU School of Nursing have joined monthly AHUG meetings to share program specifics and expand greater bi-directional communications.

The AHUG meetings are held on the fourth Thursday of each month at 10 - 11:30 a.m., while remaining flexible for holiday schedules or other large local competing events. For additional details or to be added to the invitee list, please reach out to Michael Gesme or Tina Fonteneau at engagemassey@vcu.edu or fonteneaut@vcu.edu.

Written by: Michael Gesme

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