Mayor Shelia Young

How One Mayor is Reaching a Hard-To-Reach Population 

San Leandro is a quiet community of 74,000 just south of Oakland. Most of its population growth began just after World War II, and many of these homeowners .still live in the homes they bought in the 1940s and 50s. Consequently, San Leandro has the largest per capita population of senior citizens of any city in Alameda County.

Getting the Message Out to Seniors

Sometimes, the way a message is delivered can be just as important as the message itself, a rule to remember in trying to reach .a special population. And getting the message out to San Leandro’s senior population about the importance of mammography and early detection and treatment of breast cancer is the challenge that Mayor Shelia Young took on once again this year. Now in her second year of office, Mayor Young launched her second Mayor’s Campaign Against Breast Cancer, once again during National Breast Cancer Awareness Month (NBCAM).

A Special Community Partner

One aspect of the city makes it somewhat easier for Mayor Young to deliver her message to the community than in larger cities. Since there is only one primary hospital in the city – San Leandro Hospital – the mayor can concentrate upon working with one strong partner. And this partner has administrative and medical staff who are committed to spreading the word about breast cancer awareness and mammography to all patients, including senior clientele.

These hospital staff members worked extensively with Mayor Young to create a month-long calendar of breast cancer workshops and other campaign events, and this collaboration has resulted in a dynamic partnership between the mayor’s office and the hospital. In fact, the campaign was kicked off at a hospital-sponsored Health and Fitness Expo. Other NBCAM activities included a community display of breast cancer survivor quilts, self-examination workshops, and community education lectures.

Personal Involvement in NBCAM

At the start of October, Mayor Young issued a proclamation urging all citizens of San Leandro to observe NBCAM. On National Mammography Day, Mayor Young set the tone by stepping up for her own mammogram. For the second year in a row, San Leandro Hospital has opened its doors to the entire community and offered to accept any medical insurance payment as payment in full for the exam. For those women who have no insurance, or whose insurance does not include mammography, the hospital offered the mammogram free of charge. Thanks to Mayor Young’s efforts to spread the word about the importance of mammography to city employees, they were given leave time from work on this day to visit San Leandro Hospital for mammograms.

Another outreach tool Mayor Young made good use of is her local cable television .program "City Limits." Taped in advance, "City Limits" aired two weeks before and during the first two weeks of NBCAM. The mayor’s guests on the program were .a representative from the American Cancer Society, a staff oncologist from San Leandro Hospital, and the hospital’s customer relations manager. The discussion focused on .a common sense approach to breast cancer awareness and the importance of early detection and treatment. The mayor’s personal public service announcement – .produced by the Conference of Mayors .and supported by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention – was included .in the program.

"This is such an important message .for all of our community," said Mayor Young, "but I think it is one that is really .a challenge to get across to women, especially seniors. Our "City Limits" program is well watched. I know this from the feedback I get from constituents every month. Early detection and treatment can make such a difference in the survival odds of this terrifying disease. I’ve made it my personal mission to share this important message, and I knew this [cable TV program] would be a perfect medium for sharing some very practical information about breast cancer and mammography."

Mayor Young also expressed her appreciation to the San Leandro Hospital staff for their commitment and partnership. Noting that her Mayor’s Campaign Against Breast Cancer has gained momentum, she has pledged to wage this initiative throughout her term as Mayor of San Leandro.

Follow-Up and Treatment

Six hundred women received mammograms in San Leandro during the month of October 1999, which is about 25 percent more than most months at San Leandro Hospital. Of these 600 women, 10 percent had significant findings that required follow-up with a physician.

In such cases, a patient is referred to her own health care provider for the follow-up services. If she is without a provider and medically indigent, her follow-up will be covered by the state Breast Cancer Early Detection Program, which has a cadre of selected providers. She will be referred to a local physician who is one of the selected providers; and should she be diagnosed with breast cancer, her treatment may be covered by Medi-Cal, the state’s Medicaid program for indigent patients. Such patients may be employed, but they are deemed eligible for Medi-Cal if they are without health insurance or are underinsured.     

For more information, please contact:

Kathleen Ornelas
Community Relations Representative/PIO
Mayor’s Office
telephone: 510/577-3358
fax: 510/577-3340