The Actors Fund established the Phyllis Newman Women’s Health Initiative in 1996 to provide a safety net for women in the entertainment industry who are coping with critical health concerns. The Women’s Health Initiative dedicates a range of resources solely to addressing the health needs and concerns specific to women, including breast, cervical and ovarian cancers, plus domestic violence, chemical dependency and mental health issues, as well as providing services and financial assistance to women without health insurance.
In Fiscal Year 2011, BC/EFA gave grants totaling $600,000 to this vital service provider. In turn, the Women's Health Initiative helped 593 clients with the emergency financial assistance they needed to confront breast, cervical and ovarian cancers, domestic violence, chemical dependency, mental health issues, and other critical conditions.
The comprehensive nature of the Women’s Health Initiative’s case management approach encompasses employment, economic, and other factors that impact each client’s ability to fight for her health with maximum success. Case workers are effective at helping women deal with difficulties triggered by medical conditions and the subsequent challenges around financial, psychological and family issues, staying involved with clients on an ongoing basis and providing the support and referrals they need to best cope with these pressing issues. Counselors offer vital assistance in treatment and recovery, applying for benefits, filing insurance claims, coordinating childcare and devising financial plans.
Each year, the Women's Health Initiative provides hundreds of mammograms and gynecological exams at no charge to women in “the business” without adequate health insurance at The Al Hirschfeld Free Health Clinic at The Aurora on West 57th Street and Tenth Avenue in New York City.
Support groups offered by the Phyllis Newman Women's Health Initiative provide a place where women can come together to offer and receive support around issues ranging from managing chronic physical and mental health conditions to aging in the industry, anti-violence and family issues. The Women’s HIV Outreach and Education Program offers comprehensive services for women in the entertainment industry concerned about safer sex, HIV or other sexually transmitted diseases. In addition, the Women’s Health Initiative provides an extensive resource library and access to a vast network of women’s health care providers, research studies and other resources.
“After 10 full years of having health insurance, it ran out, just after I was diagnosed with a brain tumor. The Women’s Health Initiative paid to continue my insurance for the next year while I underwent surgery and recovery. Later, when the company stopped paying for my physical therapy, The Actors Fund found another agency willing to continue my coverage.
- Client, Phyllis Newman Women's Health Initiative
"I have worked in this business as a dancer for over 25 years. Today I have lymphoma. What young dancer imagines there will be such a day. But there I was. Funds from the Women’s Health Initiative helped me to keep my modest apartment, as I continue my treatment as an out patient. And, for that, I am so very grateful. If I had no place to live, I would have no place to remember and dream and, God willing, recover."
-Client, Phyllis Newman Women's Health Initiative
For more information about The Actors Fund, visit actorsfund.org.