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November 18, 2009 > 'Foundation garments' provide more than the typical support

'Foundation garments' provide more than the typical support

HERS Breast Cancer Foundation Receives Prestigious Accreditation

Dealing with cancer is hard enough - especially a disfiguring type like breast cancer. Patients should be focused solely on getting well instead of worrying about whether or not their treatments are covered or how to find clothes that fit properly.

The HERS Breast Cancer Foundation couldn't agree more. That is why they continue to expand services to educate, raise funds, and provide both emotional and material support to women stricken with the disease.

HERS is an acronym for Hope, Empowerment, Renewal and Support. The foundation operates a program called Bras for Body & Soul directly next to the Washington Women's Center located inside Washington West (2500 Mowry Avenue in Fremont.)

The program provides silicone prostheses and post-surgical garments such as lymphedema compression garments, bras, camisoles and swimsuits. Chemotherapy patients suffering from hair loss will find wigs and a variety of head coverings. Bras and fittings are also available for any woman, medical patient or not. Sizes range from AA to J.

Best of all, Bras for Body & Soul provides a knowledgeable, understanding and supportive environment for breast cancer patients and survivors. Proceeds help fund foundation programs.

HERS' latest service is intended to meet the needs of local uninsured and underinsured clients.

"Last year we started serving the underserved with a program called "We Support...You Survive," explains Executive Director Dr. Vera Packard, a breast cancer surgeon with more than 20 years of experience.

The program is a partnership with Washington Hospital and Tri-City Health. The latter screens recipients for eligibility.

Dr. Packard described a patient with lymphedema who recently came to the store. Bras for Body and Soul program director Polly Sherman assisted the woman in selecting compression sleeves to treat swelling. In the process, the R.N. realized the client also needed more appropriate bras and encouraged her to try some on. The woman kept demurring, finally admitting, "I can't afford it."

"We had a hard time convincing her we were giving it to her for free," Dr. Packard recalls. "We told her, 'That's what we're here for.' "

"Another client said that her doctors gave her life back, and we gave her self esteem back," Dr. Packard adds. "That's what we're all about."

HERS Breast Cancer Foundation was accredited recently by the American Board for Certification in Orthotics, Prosthetics & Pedorthics. Accreditation is mandatory for all organizations that supply "durable medical equipment," like prostheses, to Medicare patients.

"We already did a good job in terms of business practices," Dr. Packard emphasizes. "This puts systems in place so that we can do a great job."

Accreditation promotes quality and accountability by ensuring organizations follow best practices for processes and training.

"This certification ensures that our professionals are compliant with laws and regulations pertaining to education, ethics, practices, credentials and training for providing mastectomy products," she says. "Being the only nonprofit in the Bay Area that does this, this puts us on a higher level, validating what we do so well."

The accreditation process was comprehensive, detailed and meticulous. "It was a six-month project involving everyone in the organization," Dr. Packard explains.

"We received a 200-page book outlining requirements such as fire extinguisher and first aid training. We're using new forms. We survey clients and have a process to analyze survey results so we can really be accountable. It ensures better follow up and standards for product quality."

ABC, the accrediting organization, is an independent, not for profit agency that is itself accredited by the National Commission for Certifying Agencies. It is recognized by the National Organization for Competency Assurance, Centers for Medicare/Medicaid Services, Veteran's Administration, insurance companies, government agencies, and health maintenance organizations throughout the country.

Come in and Visit Us!

HERS Breast Cancer Foundation and Bras for Body and Soul are located at 2500 Mowry Ave., Suite #130, (1st floor) inside Washington West in Fremont. Visit us at www.HERSfund.org or call (510) 790-1954 for more information.

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