By Bill Parry
The American-Italian Cancer Foundation’s Mobile Care Clinic was slated to stop in Arverne in Rockaway Friday providing no-cost digital mammograms and clinical breast exams for women 40 and over who have a New York City mailing address. Since 1980, the Mobile Care Clinic has traveled the five boroughs providing exams by a nurse practitioner and instruction on breast self-awareness for up to 40 women a day.
“While we go to all five boroughs, more than 40 percent of the women we see are in Queens,” said Ruth Vega, AICF’s director of Cancer Screening, Outreach, and Education. “We serve 4,800 to 5,000 women a year with the goal of making such life-saving breast cancer screening services accessible, culturally and linguistically. Especially in neighborhoods with low income levels, limited screening access, and high incidents of breast cancer.”
Vega added that 75 percent of the women who visit the Mobile Care Clinic had an annual household income at or below $25,000 and 43 percent were uninsured, with an additional 20 percent under insured.
“Forty-two percent in Queens speak a language other than English,” Vega said. While the staff of the Mobile Care Clinic is bilingual in Spanish and English, AICF partners with trusted community groups and civic leaders to bridge the gap with other languages to help reduce the distrust of the health-care system that many women feel.
At a recent visit to Jackson Heights, state Assemblyman Michael DenDekker (D-East Elmhurst) and U.S. Rep. Joseph Crowley (D-Jackson Heights) hosted the Mobile Care Clinic.
“Breast cancer screenings are a vital part of women’s health care, and sadly, too many women do not have access to this care,” DenDekker said. “We saw this as a need that we could do our part to fill. Bringing this van to provide this service helps to keep our community healthy and informed as we continue to fight this battle against breast cancer.”
Early detection is a critical factor in being able to save lives touched by breast cancer, according to Crowley. “Sadly, breast cancer remains one of the most common forms of cancer among American women,” he said. “We need to do all we can to continue to help raise awareness and provide resources necessary to fight this disease.”
The Mobile Care Clinic will be in Corona Oct. 10, Jamaica Oct. 14, Long Island City Oct. 22 and Woodhaven Oct. 25.
Patients are asked to wear a two-piece outfit with a top that can be easily removed and avoid any oil, powder, deodorants or perfume in the breast, underarm or chest areas.
Like any clinic, AICF runs an appointment-based program in order to minimize patient wait times and ensure that screening days run as efficiently as possible. To schedule an appointment call 1-877-628-9090. Walk-ins are accommodated whenever possible.
Reach reporter Bill Parry by e-mail at bparr