$850K mobile unit to combat high breast cancer rates in Clark County

6:00 a.m. Tuesday, Jan. 17, 2017 Community News
Selena Kemper, supervisor of the Mammography Department Community Mercy Health Partners, talks about the 3D mammography machine in the new Mobile Mammography Unit Friday, Jan. 13, 2017. Bill Lackey/Staff

Community Mercy Health Partners has purchased an $850,000 mobile mammography unit to offer preventative services in Clark and Champaign counties after data revealed breast cancer rates in both counties are above the state average.

The new vehicle will travel around the two counties to offer 3D and 2D mammograms to patients. Before its purchase, Community Mercy borrowed a vehicle from a Cincinnati hospital to offer mobile services.

“With our own services we could go further and more often and reach out to the community based on their needs,” said Selena Kemper, mammography manager at Springfield Regional Medical Center.

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Data from 2013 shows Clark County had 160 cases of breast cancer per 100,000 people. That’s higher than the Ohio average of 118 cases and the national average of 123 cases per 100,000 people. In Champaign County the number of cases of breast cancer was 121 in 2014, higher than the state average.

Community Mercy Health Partners has a new $850,000 mammography unit.

“It’s our goal to try to reach out to patients, try to get to them early,” Kemper said. “We don’t want to wait until you have signs and symptoms of breast cancer.”

The mobile unit will allow patients to receive care when and where it’s most convenient for them. Access to care is a problem in both counties, she said, so the easier it is for patients to receive preventative measures, the better.

“It’s a very simple test,” she said of mammograms. “It allows us the opportunity to see something so early.”

Patients who make appointments can expect the visit to take about 15 minutes, she said. Walk-ins are also welcome, but appointments may take longer so patients can fill-out paperwork.

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The process is easy and convenient, patient Denise Wamsley said, who came in for a mammogram last week.

“This just seemed like the opportune time,” she said, “easy access and a very simple procedure.”

Wamsley had put off the test, she said, but booked an appointment when she received an email about the mobile unit.

“I have a very good friend who’s had breast cancer,” she said, “and I should’ve been more diligent.”

The vehicle will also be able to help patients who are uninsured or under-insured, Kemper said.

“We have amazing grants available,” Kemper said. “The community has been so giving.”

Patients can learn how to make sure their tests are covered by calling 937-523-9332.

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The move toward taking mammograms out into the community is part of a greater trend across the Miami Valley in the past five years, said Bryan Bucklew, president of the Greater Dayton Area Hospital Association.

The mobile units not only increase access for patients, he said, but also increase awareness for breast health.

“It gets people aware that they should make sure they have it checked,” he said.

And it’s been successful, he said.

“Early detection is key and this is one of the components that helps with that,” Bucklew said.

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Women older than 40 should receive a mammogram once a year, Kemper said, or once every other year depending on a doctor’s recommendation.

Mercy Memorial Hospital in Urbana will host the unit weekly every Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday. To schedule an appointment at Mercy Memorial, call 937-328-8100.

The new unit will available at the Springfield Regional Medical Center on Jan. 23 and Jan. 30. Appointments can be made by calling 937-523-9332.

It will also be at other community locations, including the Upper Valley Mall in German Twp. on Jan. 20 and the Caring Kitchen in Urbana on Jan. 24. For more information on where the mobile mammography unit will be in the community, check mercy.com.