BILLINGS – St. Vincent Healthcare’s Mammography Coach was started in 2010 with a mission to provide convenience and access to rural Montana women.
The coach travels the region bringing access to digital mammographies to women.
Now, they’re expanding their reach.
“We started going out and in the seven and a half years we have diagnosed 90 women that have had their very first mammogram on the mobile coach.” St. Vincent Healthcare Breast Imaging Supervisor Pam Kaufman said.
Their typical reach is about 300 miles out of Billings. This year they traveled to Hayes, Montana, and plan to do an overnight trip to Gardiner next year.
“It was needed especially in Montana because we have a lot of rural areas, and women in the rural areas are not able to get to Billings to get their mammograms done, so part of our mission at St. Vincent’s is outreach and we want to reach as many patients as we can to help them get the care that they need. If you have no insurance we have programs available,” Kaufman said.
The process takes about 15 minutes, and can offer peace of mind, or a next step.
“If they have their screening mammogram on the mobile coach and the radiologist sees an area they want to do some more imaging of, we contact the patient and they do have to come into our office at St. V’s and we work it up,” Kaufman said. “Most of the time it is okay, just some tissue that needs spread out a little bit more. But occasionally there is one that we need to do a biopsy, and if it’s something we can biopsy that day we do same-day biopsies in the office for these women.”
Kaufman urges the importance of being proactive.
“There’s no reason. If you have no insurance we have programs available. We just want you to get your screening mammogram. It’s just part of your breast healthcare and we want to catch a cancer early because it’s a survival issue about catching it early because early detection is key,” Kaufman said.
Reporting by Jenny Fick for MTN News