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Mobile mammography bus makes breast cancer screenings more accessible

Mobile Mammography Unit (Photo courtesy of Mount Sinai)

The Mount Sinai Mobile Mammography Unit has partnered with St. Mary’s Hospital for Children in Bayside to provide screenings for their employees during breast cancer awareness month.

The mobile unit is meant to provide fast and convenient screenings to make care more accessible.

Marianne Muzic, a social worker at St. Mary’s, said she is looking forward to taking advantage of this initiative. 

“Being a mother of two and working two jobs, it’s very difficult,” Muzic said. “I want to stay healthy and it’s right outside our door of our campus. I’m very grateful to St. Mary’s for partnering with Mount Sinai.”

This is St. Mary’s first time partnering with Mount Sinai’s mobile mammography unit. About a year ago, Patricia Hackenjos, the vice president of human resources, said that St. Mary’s conducted a utilization review of their healthcare services provided to its employees and found the participation in cancer screenings was very low, especially for breast cancer.

“The only reason we could think of for why it was so low was inconvenience,” Hackenjos said. “They probably don’t have the time to go to a service provider.”

After that, St. Mary’s decided to bring in the mobile mammography unit to their Bayside facility.

Inside the Mobile Mammography Unit. (Photo courtesy of Mount Sinai)

“Early detection is key and we want to make sure our employees are healthy,” Hackenjos said. “Our kids that we serve here depend on every member of the team.”

The bus offers intake forms in 12 languages, said Dr. Laurie Margolies, the chief of Breast Imaging at Mount Sinai Health System. The New York Cancer Services Program will also cover the cost for eligible woman who are uninsured or underinsured. Undocumented immigrants are also able to get screenings paid for by this program.

Patients enter the bus, get changed into a gown and go into the screening room. After the screening, the bus goes back to Mount Sinai and images are uploaded. Within a few days, the screenings are read and reports are sent out. 

Margolies recommended scheduling a follow-up for those who have a finding on the mammogram, which is about 10 percent. If a woman needs a biopsy or any further medical treatment, Mount Sinai helps coordinate that. 

“We’ve gotten very positive feedback from our patients,” Margolies said. “They’re extremely grateful. They were so afraid to have a mammogram but the bus made it so easy.”

One in eight women will be diagnosed with breast cancer at some point in their lives. Margolies feels this program is essential since it lowers the barriers and increases access that otherwise might prevent someone from getting a screening mammography.

“It lowers anxiety when we’re at a facility where people feel comfortable,” Margolies said. “If they’re already comfortable at a faith-based group or community center and we’re there and their friends are getting mammograms — I think that’s very helpful.”

The mobile unit reaches every corner of the five boroughs, helping women who may not have been able to go to a Mount Sinai facility.

“We have great breast imaging services at Mount Sinai Queens and this allows us to expand into other areas that are inaccessible if people have trouble getting to us by bus or train,” Margolies said.

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