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January 17, 2011

UVA and The Health Wagon preparing for second mobile mammography clinic

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On April 23 and 24, the University of Virginia Health System and The Health Wagon will again team up to provide state-of-the-art breast health screenings in Clinchco to women in far Southwest Virginia who are uninsured or have no mammography services nearby.

This is the second screening sponsored by the two organizations, which are collaborating to reduce the region’s above-average rate of breast cancer mortality. The first screening, which was held in December 2008, provided digital mammograms to 47 women. Twelve attendees – more than 25 percent and nearly four times the national average – had potential abnormalities that required further evaluation.

“One patient learned that she has an early stage of breast cancer and is beginning treatment. Another is awaiting further testing. The rest found out their conditions are not cancerous,” reports Teresa Gardner, NP, executive director of The Health Wagon. She believes the first round of results confirms the value of and need for screening and early detection.

“When breast cancers are caught and treated in early stages, there’s a greater chance of recovering,” notes Christine Shatchman, R.T., a mammography technologist at UVA. As they did in December, Shatchman and her mobile mammography teammates will start early, stay late, and work through lunch during the April clinic. “Our goal is to screen and help as many women as possible,” she adds.

Removing geographic and financial barriers to care is an important aspect of the collaboration between UVA and The Health Wagon. In addition to sending its top-notch mobile mammography van and team to Clinchco, the UVA Health System is using special funding from the state and other sources to cover the cost of screening women without insurance. When those who are uninsured need follow-up care, The Health Wagon is stepping in to erase remaining financial hurdles.

“It’s not very helpful for patients to get a mammogram if they have no ability to pay should further care be needed. Our goal is to connect people with programs and groups that will pay for the care they need,” says Gardner. “After the December screening, we helped five women enroll in Every Women’s Life (a state-supported program) and referred one to the Susan Komen Foundation.”

Fifty-four appointments are available for the upcoming mammography clinic, which will operate from 8:00 am to 5:00 pm on Thursday, April 23 rd and from 8:00 am to 12:00 pm on Friday, April 24 th . The Health Wagon will be scheduling appointments next week, beginning with individuals on its mammography waiting list. More information is available from The Health Wagon on 276-835-9474.

The breast health collaboration with The Health Wagon is part of UVA’s multi-faceted initiative to create sustainable health care solutions for uninsured and medically underserved residents of far southwest Virginia. For information about UVA’s other medical outreach activities in the region, call David Cattell-Gordon on 434-982-4234.

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