Louisiana Mammography Vans Screen Uninsured, Rural Women

Woman's Hospital and Mary Bird Perkins Cancer Center in Baton Rouge, La., have collaborated to provide digital mammography screenings and breast examinations using two mobile vans to uninsured women or women without access to the screenings, the Baton Rouge Advocate reports.

The Mary Bird Perkins van has a waiting room and two examining rooms for physicians and nurse practitioners to provide clinical breast examinations that are required for women who do not have a physician's prescription for a screening. The Woman's Hospital van, which took Hologic nine months to build, provides the digital mammograms, according to the Advocate.

The digital mammogram images are stored on a laptop and then are downloaded later onto radiologists' computers at Woman's Hospital for examination, according to Cynthia Rabalais, director of imaging services at Woman's Hospital.

The vans screen women at community centers, medical clinics or churches, and the hospital hopes the vans will reach about 20,000 women annually, said Jodi Conachen, public relations manager for Woman's Hospital. The digital equipment can handle more cases than the previous system, which used analog mammography equipment and reached about 4,500 women annually, the Advocate reports.

The mobile coaches must be powered at all times and can run on generators or can be plugged in. The program is partially funded by CDC, through the Louisiana Breast and Cervical Health Program (Couvillion, Baton Rouge Advocate, 1/10).

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