For women, getting an annual mammogram (x-ray imaging that can detect lumps or abnormal growths) can be a life-saving decision. Such screenings are proven to reduce deaths related to breast cancer by detecting it early, when it’s most treatable. But often barriers such as lack of insurance, transportation, and prohibitive costs stand in the way of accessing such an important preventative measure. That’s why on Monday, November 28, Marin Community Clinics welcomed the opportunity to host an Assured Imaging mobile unit (equipped with state-of-the-art digital mammography technology) at its Novato campus, and will do so again in San Rafael on December 15.
The events are centered around promoting women’s health and supported by Partnership HealthPlan of California (PHC). Clinics’ Associate Director of Quality Assurance & Improvement, Margie Powers, coordinated the events and has worked to make the experience for patients as enjoyable and positive as possible.
“We’re so grateful to PHC for sponsoring these events for our patient community,” explained Powers. “Patients will have the opportunity to get a Pap test on the same day.” The Quality department hand-packed gift bags for each patient in attendance. At the November event, Powers and Novato campus staff arrived early to greet patients with cookies, coffee, and assist with check-ins. The extra attention and care didn’t go unnoticed among patients – of whom 32 took advantage of the screening.
“Some of our patients were so thankful to receive their screening appointment that they were literally in tears,” said Medical Assistant Stephanie Labarthe, who managed the outreach and scheduling of the appointments. “The feedback has been amazing. It feels good to be out here offering this.” While pre-scheduled appointments for the screenings are necessary, patients either past-due for a screener mammogram or those that needed one and otherwise aren’t able get a screening are prioritized.
As for the mobile unit and the Assured Imaging staff operating it? The tour rolls on – with destination locations focused on serving under-resourced communities. This particular unit came to the Bay Area all the way from Tucson, Arizona, and stops have included fellow medical clinics, schools, and special events across several states. The unit also regularly visits Navajo Nation, a Native American reservation spanning portions of Arizona, New Mexico, and Utah.
“We go wherever we’re needed,” explained the unit’s driver and medical clerk, Betty Bustamante. Based on the overwhelmingly positive response so far at Marin Community Clinics, it’s clear the need within our own community is sizable. The Clinics aim to duplicate the success of the November event this month, and hopes to continue to promote preventive health measures and screenings at collaborative events on a more frequent basis.