Baptist’s Mobile Mammography Unit on the Move
For more information about Baptist's mobile mammography unit or to schedule an appointment for a mammogram or a visit to your business or organization, please call 901-226-0832
Baptist’s health center on wheels, or mobile mammography unit, is the only one of its kind in the Mid-South. And for the past 10 years, Baptist’s mobile mammography unit has traveled to numerous communities in the Mid-South, making breast health information and screening mammograms available to women who might not otherwise have access to these services.
“In 2002, we screened more than 2,000 women in Shelby County and the surrounding areas,” said Jackie Graves, director of Baptist’s Women’s Health Center. “Through the mobile unit, we can travel to local and remote locations, making mammograms easily accessible and convenient for women in our community.”
The mobile mammography unit visits businesses, such as Buckman Labs, The Commercial Appeal, FedEx, Bartlett Prescription Shoppe and Kroger, in the metro-Memphis area throughout the year. Women can schedule appointments in advance and get their annual mammograms on their lunch breaks. All they need are their insurance information and identification.
“Most of the businesses we visit have us come out for the benefit of their employees,” said Katie Watson, operations coordinator for Baptist’s Women’s Health Center, and scheduler for the mobile mammography unit. “The majority of the time, businesses will have us out as a health-conscious, cost-effective benefit for their employees – that way their employees don’t have to take time off to get an important test, and the visit promotes good health.”
Baptist’s mobile mammography unit doesn’t just visit businesses, though. One of the organizations Baptist visits monthly is the Church Health Center, a primary health care clinic mostly for the working uninsured.
“Baptist’s mobile mammography unit is a wonderful resource for us,” said Debbie Odom, head nurse for the Church Health Center. “We primarily see patients without insurance - lots of women who’ve never had a mammogram, and they’re 50 and 60 years old. The mobile mammography unit makes it possible for patients who’ve never had a mammogram before to get one.”
Initially, Baptist’s mobile mammography unit visited the Church Health Center three to four times a year. But through a grant from the Susan G. Komen Foundation, Baptist was able to develop the Mammography for the Underserved of Memphis program in 1994 and increase its visits to the Church Health Center and other underserved communities. Through this program, Baptist also provides breast health educational information for these communities, including the growing Hispanic population in Memphis.
“More than 3,400 women, thus far, have taken advantage of the opportunity of receiving screenings for breast cancer through our program, allowing us to take the screening into the underserved areas of our community,” Graves said. “We propose in the coming year to screen at least 350 women in Shelby County and the surrounding area through this program. Our target populations are women from lower socio-economic neighborhoods who have no other means to receive screening and would not otherwise have the opportunity to receive the breast health education delivered through our program.”
And Baptist’s increased visits to the Church Health Center (once a month) as a result of the Mammography of the Underserved of Memphis program have made a difference.
“Several cases of breast cancer have been identified,” Odom said. “I’m surprised at the number of patients who do have breast cancer. Some have found a mass; some had no symptoms whatsoever.”
That’s the goal of the Baptist Women’s Health Center’s mobile mammography unit – to increase women’s awareness of their breast health and make it easy for them to schedule their annual mammogram, a potentially life-saving test.
“If we find one woman with breast cancer and detect it early, we’ve done our job,” Odom said. “It’s not about numbers, it’s about people’s lives.”
Odom’s sentiments echo those of the Baptist Women’s Health Center and mobile mammography unit staff.
For more information about Baptist’s mobile mammography unit or to schedule an appointment for a mammogram or a visit to your business or organization, please call 901-226-0832 or visit www.baptistonline.org.