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Commissioners OK funding for breast cancer screening

Court discusses providing American Rescue Plan Act funds to HCWC, San Marcos Hays County EMS
Tuesday, August 2, 2022

The Hays County Commissioners Court approved funding through the American Rescue Plan Act for breast cancer screening.

A social service funding agreement was approved by the commissioners between Hays County and United Way for Greater Austin for use of ARPA funding for cancer screening and treatment for individuals living at or below 250% of the federal poverty level and are uninsured and not eligible for other resources. Funding approved during Tuesday’s meeting was for $1,187,219.

“This is really an exciting day to have the ability to fund this organization to move this project forward,” Ingalsbe said. “We know that cancer is the number one killer in Central Texas, that uninsured patients are six times more likely to be diagnosed with cancers which are identified in late stages, and that the five-year life expectancy for stage four breast cancer is just 27% compared to 99% life-expectancy for stage one breast cancer. And so, the Addressing Cancer Together coalition is trying to work to change these numbers.”

Eric Boehning, senior project manager for Ardurra, said the justification for using ARPA funding for breast cancer screening “practically wrote itself.”

“There’s academic studies showing that, yes, there was a clear impact from the decrease in [breast cancer] screenings and that you can actually mitigate it by getting this type of service out there for the community,” Boehning said.

Ellen Richards — who is leading Addressing Cancer Together,  a regional initiative to create access to cancer care for people who are uninsured — said ACT is starting its work by screening and treatment for breast cancer. ACT is working with Hays, Bastrop and Williamson counties to get people into screening and treatment.

“That’s what this funding will do is fill the screening and treatment gap for people who don’t have access to other resources,” Richards said. “We have already helped two women in Hays County who are in treatment today because of the work that we’re doing. And so, with the support from this court, we will be able to expand that to more women in Hays County.”

Richards said screening for breast cancer was down to 40% following the pandemic and made a call for the community to get screened.

“We need a lot of people getting screened, getting their preventive mammograms, those people get diagnosed that need further analysis because they have an unusual mammogram and then those who are diagnosed with cancer get treatment,” Richards said. “And so, we are helping with all pieces of that funnel and it’s really important for women and men in the community to know that they need to get those screenings.”

The commissioners unanimously approved the funding agreement with United Way for Greater Austin for breast cancer screening and treatment.

The court also discussed providing APRA funding for the Hays-Caldwell Women’s Center The commissioners received a brief presentation by Boehning regarding a grant agreement between Hays County and HCWC not to exceed $644,000 from funds received by the county from the ARP State and Local Fiscal Recovery Fund. According to presentation documents, funds may be used by HCWC for normal operating working capital uses, which includes day-to-day operations such as payroll, rent, inventory, utilities and interest on loans.

“Within the legislation itself, it calls out the need for a response to an increase in domestic violence as a result of the pandemic,” Boehning said. “So, the revenue loss and the increase in donations and the need for increased response to domestic violence are eligible underneath the public health and negative economics impacts eligible.”

HCWC CEO Melissa Rodriguez said the center is seeing increased demand for services.

“We’ve been full almost every single day since the shutdown kind of loosened up to the point where we have to double up people, we’re using recreational space because we never want to turn away from our service county,” Rodriguez said. “We know we need a better response system so this is going to enable us to do some of that.”

Commissioner Debbie Ingalsbe said she appreciated the court working to providing funding to HCWC.

“It’s unfortunate that we have to provide these types of services but it’s a reality,” Ingalsbe said. “It’s wonderful to know that we have a great organization that provides these services in such a caring way. So, I’m extremely happy that we’re able to fund this through ARPA funding.”

The court will consider approval of funding for HCWC at an upcoming meeting.

The commissioners also received a presentation about a grant agreement between Hays County and San Marcos Hays County EMS not to exceed $796,795 from funds received by the county from the ARP State and Local Fiscal Recovery Fund. Granting funds may be used by San Marcos Hays County EMS for normal operating working capital uses.

Funding will be used for two ambulances to help mitigate future pandemics by bolstering San Marcos Hays County EMS’ ability to respond quicker.

“These two ambulances that we’ll be considering will help in the event that there’s an ambulance down that there will be one available for service,” Ingalsbe said.

Boehning said the acquisition of the ambulances will be useful to mitigate a future pandemic, any other disaster that occurs and increased population growth in Hays County.

“There’s a lot of things that come along with [the county’s growth], you have an increased population, increased population density, which is a trigger for future community spread. Unfortunately, the next pandemic — hopefully, it’s not in our lifetime — these two ambulances will allow the San Marcos Hays County EMS to be able to respond more timely to the inevitabilities of what we need ambulances for.”

The court will consider approval of funding for San Marcos Hays County EMS at an upcoming meeting.

For the complete meeting and agenda, visit

San Marcos Record

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P.O. Box 1109, San Marcos, TX 78666