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When Dr. Karen Toppi moved to Palm Coast eight years ago, she noticed a void in the community. There was nothing in regard to women’s breast and gynecological health.
Rather than just accept the void, she decided to do something about it.
“I recognized the lack of education and awareness for women in this community, and I developed a passion to educate and find the appropriate funding so we can get these patients, educated, evaluated and treated as needed,” she said.
That’s where it all began.
In October 2004 — just four months after coming to town — she held her first breast health seminar. The all-day event, which was a grassroots operation, had lectures and question-and-answer sessions from specialists in the medical field. There were survivor stories and education about imaging and the latest chemotherapy and surgery options.
The event has taken place every year since 2004, with the exception of this year. At the first event, there were 45 people. Last year, there were 200.
Toppi, who is board certified in obstetrics and gynecology, practices gynecology and gynecological surgery at her Palm Coast-based office. She began in the medical field 16 years ago.
In addition to the yearly seminars, Toppi was key in helping Florida Hospital Flagler offer free mammogram screenings to women under the age of 50 — a program that started about four years ago.
Because of her work, Toppi was recently named Flagler County’s leader in breast health.
She was presented with the 2012 Charles M. Burkett Award for Advancement in Women’s Health, presented by Susan G. Komen and the Florida Beast Cancer Foundation on Saturday, Sept. 29, at the fourth-annual Daytona Beach Breast Health Symposium. (The award is given to two recipients each year — one in Flagler County and one in Volusia.)
“I don’t like surprises, but I was pleasantly surprised because this will hopefully be the stepping stone I need to get my nonprofit foundation approved by the government,” Toppi said Monday.
Because Flagler County has one of the highest breast cancer rates in the state, Toppi said she wants to start a nonprofit organization that can help women get financial and medical help.
Toppi’s brainchild: Hope to Help Foundation, a 501c3 that will provide education and access to needed health care for women with breast and/or gynecological cancers who are underprivileged or in need of funding.
“I want to be able to provide access and treatment to women in need, and get funding to increase education and awareness for the patients in this community,” she said.
Toppi said she’s in the process of applying for the nonprofit foundation now. She estimates that within three years the foundation can access at least “hundreds of thousands of dollars” in government funding.
“With that (money), we’re going to provide education, access to health care that’s needed for those who are underinsured or uninsured, so they can get screened, evaluated and treated and put through some system,” she said.
She hopes to have the foundation established and functioning by Jan. 1, 2013. Ideally, it will attract physicians who will provide surgery and necessary care.
"I've seen one too many women struggle to gain access to screening mammograms or evaluation to diagnosis or treatment to those with high suspicion of a breast or gynecological cancer,” Toppi said. “I would love nothing more than this to be an instrument to turn hope and help into educating women about certain aspects of their health, and in turn enable them to recognize a potential problem and have the ability and access to provide potentially life-saving treatment.”
Currently 3 Responses
- Flagler Beach/Palm Coast as represented by Florida Hospital has a very cold and "closed" system of health care options and as a fairly new resident I am " baffled" by the exclusionary mood. I own a home here, I have school age children but even with a couple of advanced degrees and Post Masters' training plus 17 years experience as a NursePractitioner I can NOT find employment in my own community.
Despite the national trend of Midlevels(PA's and Nurse Practitioners) finging our way into the hearts and minds of citizens all over the US- Florida Hospital remains reluctant, at best
In Regard to Karen Toppi- her patients praise her compassion , hospital staff expound on her skill, colleagues (even competitors) are in awe of her productivity ;She could solve the dilemmma of " patient volume-overload" by giving a NursePractitioner a chance,,,But the fact is she doesn't owe anybody anything. If she cant take new patients because the practice is busting at the seams, maybe the people who have been lucky enough to receive her care ought to be grateful.
For the rest of us-Ormond Beach is not that far away and there is more than one group with same day appointments available for well women where your business is more than appreciated.
I wish her the best in her new venture,anyone breaking free of FLORIDA HOSPITAL in this geographic zone is a trail-blazer and I admire the independent spirit and applaud her for her apparent generosity to this community in regard to Breast Health.
Mary Katherine Murphy WHNP/FNP-C
- I am SHOCKED to read the above statement! It is both misleading and totally FALSE! Not only is Dr. Toppi a thoughtful, giving and caring provider, she is now going above and beyond to provide for the women of Flagler County with her foundation! For the first month after opening her new practice, Dr. Toppi was not seeing new patients - Dr. Toppi recently underwent a surgical procedure that took her away from her patients for 2 months - she felt it her obligation and commitment to ensure all of her established patients, who were so patient in her absence, were cared for and up to date. Once we fulfilled that obligation, we began scheduling new patients. As a matter of fact, last week we committed an entire day to NOTHING BUT NEW PATIENTS! I recently left the corporate world to join Dr. Toppi in Genesis - our "New Beginning". I invite you to contact me at the office 386-246-2350 with ANY questions or concerns - just ask for Lisa.
- It is so important that we highlight our local professionals, however Dr. Toppi no longer accepts new patients. this disturbs me as there are so few providers of women's health in the area. It would be more welcome for the Observer to continue it's reputation of informing the public on new providers...not helping a practitioner, who no longer accepts new patients, to promote their practice and location. I have lived in this area for ten years and there are only two providers on my plan. one I do not care for and the other does not accept new patients. I most go to Volusia or St. John's for my female care.
24 The Lion in Winter
25 Pig Roast & Membership Drive
2:00 pm - 6:00 am
25 Jam Session in the Park
High School students donate to breast cancer patients
The Flagler Palm Coast High School Future Business Leaders of America class donated $580 to Florida Hospital Flagler Foundation’s breast cancer fund, which provides screening mammograms, diagnostic studies and education to local qualified women who are uninsured and seeking assistance.
Florida Hospital Flagler gives $2,000 in scholarships
Florida Hospital Flagler's medical staff donated $2,000 in scholarships to four graduating high school students.
Premier: Rotary of Flagler County gets thumbs up
Also, Club President Rick Staly was recognized with a "Well Done" Award.