Celebrating this Women’s Month we bring you an interview with an exceptional woman of our community. Jessica Jackson, a Latina mixed heritage. As both Mexican and African American, she is proudly multiethnic. A woman passionate for the service of women. Jessica, the only certified nurse midwife at CHASS Center, where she serves with pride as a Latina.
1. Welcome Jessica, can you tell us a little about yourself: where did you grow up, what and where did you study?
I grew up in Southwest Detroit, I’m the youngest of a working-class family. First, I studied at University of Michigan and obtained a bachelor’s degree in Women’s Studies. Knowing that I wanted to be a midwife, my focus throughout was women’s health. I continued my studies at the University of Rochester in Upstate New York for my bachelor’s degree in nursing. Shortly after, I completed my master’s degree in nursing from Wayne State University.
2. How did you become interested in women’s health? As a certified nurse midwife, what type of care do you provide and how does your work at CHASS Center allow you to fulfill your passion for women’s wellness?
Women’s health first became important to me at a young age watching my mother assist Spanish speaking neighbors navigate prenatal and medical care. My mother would volunteer her time, regularly, to interpret for individuals. Making sure people were educated about their health was very important to her. I too was a patient at CHASS, which I believe makes my services much more meaningful.
I have the joy of providing both gynecological and obstetrical care. Through both, I am able to take care of women through the lifespan with evidence-based culturally appropriate care. It brings me great joy that patients can see a provider that is excited to care for them.
3. You work with programs for the prevention of diseases that affect women such cervical and breast cancer. Could you tell us a little about the Cervical Cancer program at CHASS Center and how women can have access to it, what are the requirements, such as insurance, documents, economic situation, etc?
We partner with the Karmanos Cancer Institute’s Breast and Cervical Cancer Control Program (BCCCP) so uninsured or underinsured patients can access the breast and cervical care they need. Some of the services covered by the program include annual mammograms, pap smears, pelvic exams, and follow-up tests. BCCCP establishes the enrollment requirements, which include women must be between the age of 40-64, with some exceptions, and meet income guidelines.
To be enrolled in BCCCP at CHASS Center, women must have been referred by a CHASS health care provider. Interested women can contact our Specialty Follow-up Coordinator at 313.849.3920 to find out if they qualify.
4. We know that CHASS Center had a fundraising campaign to bring a mammography machine to the center. Could you tell us when mammography services are projected to take place at CHASS? How will this service impact the lives of the women you serve and others in our community? Can people still make donations towards this campaign?
Our goal is having mammography services operating in the Spring 2022, right around Women’s Health Month. More to come on that! Having this service will impact the lives of the women we serve by bettering access. Language and transportation cause patients not to receive many services they need. Having the mammogram machine in our center will take away the barriers to care and therefore reduce late stage cancer.
Individuals can make a tax-deductible donation to support mammography at any time by going to www.chasscenter.org/donate.
5. What do you tell your patients to make them less fearful of breast and cervical cancer screenings and how they can begin to normalize the conversation with their partners and family?
First, validating their feelings. Many times, personal and family history weigh in on a patient’s feelings about breast and cervical cancer screening. Then, I make sure to move forward in the physical exam and plan as a team with the patient. Including instructions and breathing techniques for the most comfortable exam. Patients are encouraged to ask questions throughout the process.
6. What message do you send to the women of our community, to empower them to own their health and focus on their wellbeing?
You are the queen of your health. With that power, seek out and use the resources available to you. If you don’t know what they are, come to CHASS and we will help you navigate because health is a basic human right.