Merck Foundation Awards Grant to American Cancer Society for Program to Improve Access to High-Quality Cancer Care in Underserved Communities


March 24, 2016 9:00 am ET

$1.58 Million Grant Supports Patient Navigation Program, Empowering Patients and Caregivers with Information and Support

The Merck Foundation (the Foundation) and the American Cancer Society
(ACS) announced today that the Foundation provided a grant of $1.58
million over four years to the ACS to implement a comprehensive Patient
Navigation Program in three U.S. communities where substantial cancer
care disparities exist. This funding will allow the ACS to enhance its
already substantial Patient Navigation Program and expand its focus on
access to high-quality care, patient empowerment and care coordination.

Sites selected to participate in the community-based program include the
Queens Hospital Center in Queens, N.Y.; the Phoenix Cancer
Center/Maricopa Integrated Health System in Phoenix; and the University
of New Mexico Cancer Center in Albuquerque, N.M. The organizations were
selected because they provide services to diverse, low-income and often
underserved patient populations.

“For 125 years, Merck has focused on finding solutions to improve care
for patients facing devastating diseases like cancer,” said Brenda D.
Colatrella, president, Merck Foundation and executive director,
Corporate Responsibility, Merck. “Receiving a cancer diagnosis can be an
overwhelming experience, and we are proud to work with the American
Cancer Society to help empower those touched by cancer to navigate the
often complicated path to finding the best care available.”

“Many people don’t know how to access the health care system. They don’t
have insurance, they’re afraid or they have personal beliefs that lead
them to ignore their health and avoid the health care system
altogether,” said Katherine Sharpe, senior vice president, Patient and
Caregiver Support, American Cancer Society. “The Patient Navigation
Program addresses these issues and helps people get the care they need
even under very difficult cultural, economic, educational and financial
circumstances. At the heart of patient navigation is the lesson that
offering an ear to listen and a hand to help can have remarkable impact
on the health of those most in need. We are grateful to the Merck
Foundation for providing this grant to bring much-needed support to
cancer patients in vulnerable communities in Arizona, New Mexico and New

The Patient Navigation Program is a proactive approach to providing
guidance and support for cancer patients, their families and caregivers.
Currently, more than 100 Patient Navigators are working in hospitals and
cancer treatment centers nationwide. They help with identifying and
reducing barriers to treatment, such as challenges with language,
transportation and health insurance. In 2015, the Patient Navigation
Program provided services to more than 44,000 patients across the
nation, more than one-third of whom were covered by Medicaid or were

About the American Cancer Society

The American Cancer Society is a global grassroots force of 2.5 million
volunteers saving lives and fighting for every birthday threatened by
every cancer in every community. As the largest voluntary health
organization, the Society’s efforts have contributed to a 22 percent
decline in cancer death rates in the U.S. since 1991, and a 50 percent
drop in smoking rates. Thanks in part to our progress,14.5 million
Americans who have had cancer and countless more who have avoided it
will celebrate more birthdays this year. We’re determined to finish the
fight against cancer. We’re finding cures as the nation’s largest
private, not-for-profit investor in cancer research, ensuring people
facing cancer have the help they need and continuing the fight for
access to quality health care, lifesaving screenings, clean air and
more. For more information, to get help, or to join the fight, call us
anytime, day or night, at (800) 227-2345 or visit

About The Merck Foundation

The Merck Foundation is a U.S.-based, private charitable foundation.
Established in 1957 by Merck, a global health care leader, the
Foundation is funded entirely by the company and is Merck’s chief source
of funding support to qualified non-profit, charitable organizations.
Since its inception, the Merck Foundation has contributed more than $819
million to support important initiatives that address societal needs and
are consistent with Merck’s overall mission to help the world be well.
For more information, visit

Merck Media Contacts:
Claire Gillespie, 267-305-0932
Jeanine Clemente, 908-236-5059
Merck Investor Contacts:
Teri Loxam, 908-740-1986
Justin Holko, 908-740-1879
American Cancer Society Media Contact:
Evelyn Barella, 810-610-5234
American Cancer Society Investor Contact:
Katherine Sharpe, 404-329-5705

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