ST. GEORGE – The RESEP, or Radiation Exposure Screening and Education Program Clinic, at Dixie Regional Medical Center recently announced it is accepting new patients.
After hearing about the RESEP Clinic, Annette Johnson, a Fillmore resident, thought it would be a good idea to have a cancer screening physical. She had grown up in LaVerkin and was a “Downwinder.” The term “Downwinder” is used to describe the more than 60,000 people in Southern Utah who were exposed to radioactive fallout during the nuclear testing at the Nevada Test Site.
Johnson received a physical two years in a row but nothing was cause for alarm. “I went twice, but both times nothing showed up. They strongly encouraged me to get a mammogram, so I did,” Johnson said. The doctors found breast cancer and now Johnson is in the final stage of her treatment.
It wasn’t just enough for Johnson to receive care, but she has encouraged her family to also go and get a physical. “My husband and I went together and then I told my sisters they needed to go. One of my sisters found breast cancer,” Johnson said.
Annette Johnson is just one of the 4,000 patients who have been seen by medical professionals at the RESEP Clinic. If a person qualifies as a Downwinder, he or she is eligible for a full cancer screening physical and, if diagnosed, government funding.
“Getting screened is equally as important as getting compensation for the disease,” Carolyn Rasmussen, RN, said. “When a patient has cancer and qualifies for compensation, we have the application and way to help them through the process for free.”
RESEP was established by the federal government to aid thousands of individuals potentially affected by the nuclear testing. These individuals are at a greater risk for leukemia, lymphoma, breast, thyroid cancers and other cancers – a total of 19 cancers in all. Funded by a grant from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, RESEP can provide free cancer screening physicals, follow-up services and referrals to the appropriate physicians.
“We want to continue to see new patients as well as repeat patients,” Becky Barlow, nurse practitioner at the clinic, said. “Downwinders can’t change their exposure history, but they can be proactive, get screened, and get it diagnosed early if it is there. Early detection can make all the difference in overall survival.”
Who is eligible to be seen at the RESEP clinic?
- Downwinders – Those who lived in Washington, Iron, Kane, Beaver, Millard, Piute, San Juan, Sevier, Wayne or Garfield counties in Utah; Eureka, Lander, Lincoln, Nye, White Pine or northeast Clark counties in Nevada; and northern Mohave, Coconino, Apache, Gila, Navajo and Yavapai counties in Arizona for at least one year from 1951 to 1958 or the month of July 1962 during the nuclear testing at the Nevada Test Site.
- Nevada Test Site workers – Those who worked on-site at the Nevada, Pacific, Trinity and South Atlantic nuclear test facilities during an atmospheric detonation
- Uranium industry workers – Those who were miners, ore transporters or millers of uranium for at least one year – from 1942 to 1971.
For more information call 435-251-2875. The RESEP Clinic is located at Dixie Regional Medical Center, 736 South 900 East, St. George.
Submitted by Dixie Regional Medical Center