By Susan Van Dusen
Getting a mammogram is the first and most effective step toward an early breast cancer diagnosis. However, for many Arkansas women, finding a nearby mammography facility is difficult.
One solution to that challenge was unveiled in February 2010 with the introduction of the MammoVan, a mobile mammography unit operated by UAMS.
“Access is one of the major hurdles to health care, especially in primarily rural states such as Arkansas,” said Kimberly Enoch, MammoVan program manager. “By taking our services to the local communities, we’ve made it possible for women to regularly get the screening they need.”
Prior to the MammoVan’s launch, the UAMS Cancer Control Program identified 26 counties in Arkansas that lack FDA-approved certified mammography facilities. These counties are now the site of regular MammoVan visits. Partnerships were formed with area health care programs, clinics, worksite wellness programs, health departments and other community-based organizations to promote the service within the community.
In its first two years, the MammoVan provided mammograms for 3,749 Arkansas women, including those who are uninsured, insured and Medicare recipients.
One of those women, Betty Covington, last received a mammogram more than 10 years ago. Because Covington was uninsured, the cost of her procedure was covered by grant funding secured by UAMS for the MammoVan.
“I love the MammoVan. Everyone was so nice and professional. This is a great service that will help a lot of people,” Covington said.
The MammoVan is handicapped accessible and features the most advanced digital radiology equipment. The three-room mobile unit is staffed by a certified mammography technologist and a clinical technician.
MammoVan patients receive their test results within two weeks, and the results also are sent to each patient’s primary care physician. If the mammogram shows a potential abnormality, the patient is referred for follow-up to the appropriate services.