Mobile Mammography unit helps ensure access to screenings, even during the pandemic

The COVID-19 pandemic has canceled many plans, but a mammogram shouldn't be one of them.

“This is something we can do, and we can do safely,” says Kathy McCarthy, mammography supervisor for Mercy Health – Springfield and Urbana.

Mercy Health – Springfield's Mobile Mammography unit will travel to multiple locations throughout the community in August, offering mammograms in 15 minutes or less while following safety guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

For example, both staff and patients are required to wear masks and have their temperatures taken, McCarthy says. Only one patient at a time will be allowed on the motorcoach, along with one or two staff members.

The pandemic put screenings on hiatus for seven weeks through mid-May at the mobile unit – as well as at the standing locations in Springfield and Urbana – although patients with breast issues were seen, McCarthy says. When screenings restarted, the mobile unit often was used outside of a standing location to help with social distancing.

Pandemic or not, the need for a mammogram hasn't changed.

“It is still important, because unfortunately breast cancer has not taken a break with the pandemic,” McCarthy says.

Sometimes patients are hesitant about using the mobile unit, but McCarthy says that all locations use the same machines, the same technicians and the same doctors to read the mammograms.

More than 3,200 screening mammograms have been performed on the mobile unit since it was introduced in 2017, she says. That includes about 1,075 screenings at about 125 locations in 2019 alone.

The mobile unit has been slower to see patients at pre-pandemic levels since employees at some of the facilities that would typically host the unit haven't yet returned to their offices, McCarthy says.

Patients at the mobile unit are asked to bring photo identification and an insurance card. Screenings are a covered benefit with many insurance carriers, which can verify if Springfield Regional Medical Center is an in-network provider. Uninsured or underinsured patients may qualify for no-cost mammograms.

The mobile unit provides traditional 2D imaging in addition to advanced 3D imaging. All mammograms are read by certified radiologists and double-checked by a computer-aided detection system.

Appointments can be made by calling 937-523-9332, and walk-in appointments are generally available. Upcoming local screening dates include:

  • 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Friday, Aug. 14: Mercy Health – East Springfield Internal Medicine, 2100 E. High St., Springfield
  • 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday, Aug. 17: Mercy Health – Family Physicians of Springfield, 247 S. Burnett Road, Springfield
  • 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tuesday, Aug. 18: Walgreens, 2609 E. Main St., Springfield
  • 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Thursday, Aug. 20: Rocking Horse Community Health Center, 651 S. Limestone St., Springfield
  • 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Thursday, Aug. 27: West Enon Church of God, 4800 Snider Road, Fairborn

Future dates and locations can be found at www.mercy.com/Springfieldmobilemammo.

Read more articles by Diane Erwin.

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