Lower Bucks Hospital welcomes new 3-D mammography machine as it and other medical facilities open to routine care again.
The Susan G. Komen Foundation in Philadelphia is urging women to get the mammograms they may have postponed this spring for fear of spread of the coronavirus.
“Now is the time. The hospitals would like you to resume your mammograms,” said Elaine Grobman, CEO of Komen Philadelphia, which promotes breast cancer research and outreach services for women facing the disease.
Lower Bucks Hospital used its shutdown time to install a new three-dimensional mammogram machine.
“Talk about perfect timing,” said Michael Mignone, medical imaging director at the hospital in Bristol Township. “We were able to open at the right time with our new 3-D equipment.”
The hospital started offering mammograms again on June 15 and has appointments available. Those coming for mammograms are given temperature checks, must be free of COVID-19 symptoms and wear a surgical mask. The hospital has also implemented safety precautions following guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for cleaning and disinfecting all patient care and treatment areas.
“Rooms are thoroughly cleaned and disinfected between patients,” said hospital spokeswoman Michelle Aliprantis.
Lower Bucks spent approximately $300,000 for the new Siemens equipment that gives a better image of breast tissue than digital mammography so that more cancers and those at an earlier stage can be detected. Aliprantis said it detects 41% more invasive breast cancer than traditional mammograms.
Most women over age 40 are urged to get annual mammograms. If there’s a family history of breast cancer, younger women should consult their doctors about starting mammograms much sooner, Grobman said, say at age 30.
And any woman who has noticed changes in a breast, such as a lump or bleeding nipple, should schedule a mammogram promptly, she said. “They should be very aggressive in getting their appointment.”
To get a mammogram, hospitals require a prescription from a doctor. Medicare and Medicaid both cover routine mammogram screenings.
Three-D mammography is also available at many other area hospitals, such as Doylestown Hospital, which started offering its women’s health services again in early May. Hospital officials said women are taking advantage of extended hours being offered to meet women’s needs while keeping appointments spaced out.
“We at Doylestown have implemented strict guidelines — one patient per in-person time,” said Dr. Michele Kopach, director of the Women’s Diagnostic Center at the hospital. Sue De Luca, clinical manager of the diagnostic center, said that reception areas and imaging rooms are disinfected before each new patient arrives.
St. Mary Medical Center in Middletown is now offering screening mammograms, and many patients have already called, said hospital spokeswoman Christy McCabe. “At the moment, appointments are scheduled within a week or two. The radiology team suggests calling for a summer appointment now, so patients can schedule a time that’s most convenient for them. We are seeing a surge in calls to our central scheduling department, so please be patient,” she said.
At Holy Redeemer Hospital, almost all its mammogram locations are offering appointments, with next-day screenings available at some locations, said hospital spokeswoman Mary Anna Rodabaugh.
“Patients seem eager to schedule their mammogram and undergo screening,” she said. “For those who may not be sure about whether they are ready to schedule their mammogram, we encourage them to not put off their routine screenings and care.”
Holy Redeemer has long focused on safety through its “Safe Care” program. The program has been expanded to include safe distancing, face masks and proper hand hygiene, among other steps. “We encourage patients to talk to their healthcare providers about their concerns so they can feel comfortable taking steps to promote their health through regular health screenings and routine visits,” Rodabaugh said.
Abington-Jefferson Health, has started offering mammograms at its Abington-Lansdale hospital and at its satellite outpatient centers in Willow Grove, Blue Bell and Warminster. It does not offer them currently at the main Abington hospital, said spokeswoman Ashley Jefferson.
The Susan G. Komen Foundation held a Virtual Walk for the Cure this year on Sunday, with women walking in their own neighborhoods rather than in a group. Grobman said the foundation is still accepting donations for this event and hopes to raise $500,000 to help fight breast cancer. For more information, visit https://komenphiladelphia.org/