Sage Advice Newsletter Summer 2022

Sage - Minnesotas Cancer Screening Program

Sage Advice Newsletter

Summer 2022

Bye Bye Summer


Breast Cancer Awareness Month 2022

Breast cancer awareness

October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month!

Sage is dedicated to raising awareness about the impact of breast cancer and ensuring every woman has access to cancer screening, navigation, and support services. Sage is committed to working with its partners to empower women to make healthy choices. This month, Sage is engaged in a variety of promotional and screening activities to reach women throughout the state with early detection messages. We are grateful to work with all of you in this fight against breast cancer. Thank you for all you do to help make a lifesaving difference for Minnesotans.

21st Breast Cancer Education Conference

BCEA Conf 2022

Join local partners and community members for the 2022 Breast Cancer Education Conference on Saturday, October 8, 2022. A very special day is planned to learn, support, share, empower, and communicate with others in our community whose lives have been impacted by breast cancer. 

Breast Cancer Education Conference 2022


Sage Programs Webinar Series

Sage has been delighted to have so many engaged partners join us in our past webinars held in March and May of 2022. Though our webinars are on a short pause due to Liz Wilson-Lopp's retirement, we have plans to conduct a Fall/Winter webinar. Be on the lookout for an invitation sent via WebEx (Cisco) in the next couple months.


Woman outreached arms celebrating freedom "Juneteenth Freedom Day"

Celebrating Juneteenth

Juneteenth marks the day in 1865 that federal troops arrived in Galveston, Texas to take control of the state and free all enslaved people, two and a half years after President Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation. It is the longest-running African American holiday, and officially became a federal holiday on June 17, 2021.

To honor the anniversary of the freedom granted to enslaved African Americans, Sage participated in celebratory events in the Twin Cities Metro and St Cloud areas with several partners including the Breast Cancer Education Association, CentraCare St Cloud, University of MN Urban Research Opportunity Center, Sabathani Community Center, and Greater Friendship Academy.

Sage staff discussed the importance of breast, cervical, colorectal, and cardiovascular screening, provided information and education to approximately 160 individuals, and referred age-appropriate individuals to screening services. The priority populations at these events were of African descent. Sage also engaged with many cancer survivors, as well as onsite vendors who were there to provide other important health services.

Southside waiting room

Sage Spotlight -- Southside Clinic

Southside Community Health Services (Southside) in Minneapolis has been an important Sage Programs partner for delivering cancer screening services to Minnesota’s underserved populations for decades. Over the last six years, they have worked in collaboration with Sage to also focus on systems change initiatives aimed at improving the clinic’s overall cancer screening rates. Through continued quality improvement work, Southside has realized significant improvement in screening rates for colorectal, cervical and breast cancer.

Alyssa Palmer, Southside’s Director of Quality, talks about the power of change. “The best ideas come from the people on your team who actually do the work,” she says. Under this ideology and small PDSA cycles, Southside improved their colorectal screening rates from 47% to 70% in a matter of months.

This impressive improvement doesn’t happen overnight, but there are some key components that any clinic is capable of implementing. Palmer’s mantra is to keep it simple and not overcomplicate the improvement process.

Southside used the PDSA problem solving model to improve their processes which included implementing the following interventions:

  • Quality team did a deep drive to learn about their workflow and investigate why screening rates were lower than they hoped.
  • Created a standing order for nurses and MAs for patients who were at standard risk.
  • Lab appointment for iFOBt tests to be returned was made at the patient’s original visit. They created a checkout note for the front desk to schedule a lab appointment within two weeks. This was done using a smart phrase (dot phrase) in their EMR. This intervention triggered a reminder for the patient to do the test and return their sample, as well as allowed clinicians to see results once the sample was processed by the lab.
  • Phone calls were made to patients who missed the front desk checkout and follow-up phone calls were made to patients to remind them to bring in their sample. A script of what to say to patients was created so that multiple roles could perform this responsibility.
  • Regardless of the patient’s reason for their visit, the clinic is beginning to take the opportunity to educate patients about preventative health care and the tests or screenings for which they are due.
  • Implemented a standardized “4-point” checklist to ensure a high level of care, no matter which provider saw the patient. The 4-points include education, placing orders, the checkout note, and lab appointment scheduled. This approach increased the quality of care and decreased the total cost of care.

After realizing such significant improvements in their colorectal screening rates, Southside is making similar changes to their workflow for breast cancer and cervical cancer screening, approaching each visit as an opportunity to address preventative care needs. Alyssa Palmer points out a handful of considerations to keep in mind when doing improvement work.  She talks about the importance of having open and honest conversations with your team and to talk about what is and isn’t working well. She also states that nothing is perfect, and the team should expect hiccups along the way. For example, Southside saw their screening rates decrease when follow-up phone calls were temporarily halted due to staffing changes. Lastly, be realistic when setting goals!

The Minnesota Department of Health is dedicated to protecting, maintaining, and improving the health of all Minnesotans. We would love to feature your clinic in the Sage Advice Newsletter for your work with colorectal, cervical or breast cancer! Please contact us at to share your story with us.