Dr. Edward Partridge is an Alabama Bright Light fighting cancer in the Black Belt

Dr. Edward Partridge is an Alabama Bright Light fighting cancer in the Black Belt
Dr. Edward Partridge of UAB's O'Neal Comprehensive Cancer Center stands in front of a photograph of an Alabama breast cancer survivor. Partridge mobilized an army of non-clinical workers to go door to door in Alabama's Black Belt and educate residents about available cancer care. (Karim Shamsi-Basha/Alabama NewsCenter)

Dr. Edward Partridge does not want to take credit for his medical work in the Black Belt of Alabama, noting that it has been a team effort.

Many issues require attention in the Black Belt, a mostly rural part of middle Alabama. Partridge is taking on medical disparities between people who have higher income, education and health insurance, and those who don’t.

Partridge, a physician with the O’Neal Comprehensive Cancer Center at UAB, grew up in the Black Belt. In the early 1990s, he wanted to go back home and alleviate some of the region’s inequalities.

The results of his work have been remarkable. And substantial.

“For the past 25 years, we have worked to reduce cancer disparities in medical outcomes,” Partridge said. “You really notice this difference in cancer care between whites and black in the Black Belt of Alabama.”

Dr. Edward Partridge and his team are making a life-or-death difference in Alabama’s Black Belt from Alabama NewsCenter on Vimeo.

Partridge and his team dispatched 883 women to go door to door in the Black Belt and educate people about tests for cancer. He delivered solutions to some problems, and his work benefited residents.

“We hired community health care workers to promote screening for breast cancer and, as a result, we reduced the difference in outcomes by 17 percent,” Partridge said.

Partridge found that some of the people sharing medical information had cancer themselves and needed access to care found only in urban areas, but the women’s resources and transportation were limited. “We got them to 96 percent of scheduled tests and treatments, which is remarkable considering the limited resources.”

The program using non-clinical workers is ongoing at UAB and 11 other cancer centers in the Southeast.

“We will continue to train and recruit workers to navigate patients with limited resources through treatment, survivorship and end of life,” Partridge said. “Our results speak for themselves. We have high patient satisfaction rate, and we have reduced the cost to Medicare. We have eliminated unnecessary emergency room visits and ICU admissions.”

Alabama Bright Lights captures the stories, through words, pictures and video, of some of our state’s brightest lights who are working to make Alabama an even better place to live, work and play. Award-winning journalist Karim Shamsi-Basha tells their inspiring stories. Email him comments, as well as suggestions on people to profile, at [email protected].

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