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Boro libraries to fight cancer

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The Queens Borough Public Library, Queens Hospital, the Queens chapter of the American Cancer Society and Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center have joined in a $2 million, five-year partnership. The collaboration was announced Jan. 17 at the Jackson Heights branch."You're bringing life to the people here in Queens," said Borough President Helen Marshall. "This is a fine example of bringing the experts here in Queens to take care of our people."Thomas Galante, director of the Queens library system, said the partnership will enable borough libraries to employ full-time staff to answer medical-related questions.Mobile mammography units, secured with $600,000 from City Councilman Hiram Monserrate's (D-Corona) discretionary funds, would travel to the borough's libraries. "This mobile unit is going to save lives," said Monserrate, who lost his sister to cancer a year ago. "I'm extremely pleased and very happy and encouraged by this collaboration."The vans are capable of screening for early detection of breast cancer and will be available regardless of immigration status or health insurance, according to Don Distasio of the Queens chapter of the American Cancer Society."They are going to get access... to important information," he said. "This is simply about saving lives.""Frankly, we want (the partnership) to be a model for the rest of the country. And it can be."The breast cancer detection vans will also be going to churches and community groups in Monserrate's district besides borough libraries, the councilman said.Alan Aviles, president of the city Health and Hospitals Corporation, said city hospitals conduct more than 2,000 cervical cancer screenings, 80,000 mammographies and 20,000 colon cancer screenings a year.But he said Queens is a borough where there have been too many cancers detected in late stages and the partnership would be one way to change that trend."It's an issue of access. It's an issue of outreach. It's an issue of education. ...I am very confident that this is going to make a difference."Reach reporter Howard Koplowitz by e-mail at news@timesledger.com or by phone at 718-229-0300, Ext. 173.

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