PRESQUE ISLE — Northern Light AR Gould Hospital has received a two-year grant from the Maine Cancer Foundation to help increase the number of colorectal screenings in the region.

This “Removing Stigma and Barriers: Increasing Colorectal Screening in Aroostook County” grant provides $70,710 to strengthen the hospital’s internal practices to identify and motivate patients to visit primary care providers, support providers and staff to screen for barriers to colorectal screening, educate patients about the importance of screening, and train staff to follow-up and remind patients about upcoming colorectal screening appointments.

A limited number of free non-invasive, simple to use stool screening (FIT) tests for underinsured or uninsured patients will also be available through the grant. These allow individuals to take a stool sample at home and send it to a lab for testing. The cost of both the test and the lab work is covered by the grant.

The availability of early detection screenings and follow-up services for all Maine residents is one of six goals identified by the Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention’s Maine Cancer Plan 2016-2020. Reduction of late-stage diagnosis of colorectal cancer has been identified as a high priority for the state.

According to the Maine 2018 Annual Report on Cancer, the colorectal cancer incidence rate per 100,000 population (using data from 2015) was 44.1 percent in Aroostook County, significantly higher than the rates in Maine (35.7 percent) and in the U.S (38.1 percent). This report also shows that colorectal cancer is the fifth leading cause of new cancer cases. Colorectal cancer incidence rates are significantly higher for women in Aroostook county (46.1 percent) as compared to women in Maine (33.6 percent).

The grant project will also help reduce barriers for community members without a primary care physician (PCP) to both connect to a practice and receive a colorectal screening. Having a regular primary care provider has a positive impact on a person’s long-term health.

“Aroostook County is home to some of the oldest and least healthy people in Maine,” said Dawn Roberts, community health specialist, who is heading up this grant project. “Screening for early detection of cancer as well as regular access to a primary care provider are both critically important for our region.“

AR Gould Hospital is partnering with the Aroostook County Action Program (ACAP) with this project. Individuals who are found to have barriers to healthcare will be referred to ACAP for assistance. They will be offered a voucher for a free stool screening FBOT/FIT test as an incentive to see a provider and aided in scheduling an appointment with a PCP to complete the screening follow-up. Uninsured/underinsured patients that have a positive FOBT/FIT and require a diagnostic colonoscopy will receive ACAP assistance to access to Insurance and will be connected to the hospital’s patient services for care navigation.

About the Maine Cancer Foundation Grant — Maine Cancer Foundation’s grant is offered as part of their ongoing Challenge Cancer 2020 initiative, aimed at reducing cancer incidence and mortality in Maine. They have awarded over $11 million since 2015 in support of this initiative, focused on prevention, early detection and screening, and access to care for all Mainers. To learn more about Maine Cancer Foundation, visit, or contact Katelyn Michaud at or 207-773-2533.