Mammograms On Wheels

Mammograms On Wheels
SEATTLE - We know mammograms save lives, but for many women, getting to a mammography clinic is impractical or even impossible.

Now, for the first time anywhere in the world, Swedish Medical Center is bringing together the newest technology and putting it on the road.

At first glance inside, it looks like any other breast clinic -- the mammography machine, the waiting room, and separate, small dressing rooms for women to "gown up."

But this one is different. It's on wheels.

"We'll make it easy for them to get their mammogram," says Dr. Mary Kelly, Imaging Director for the Swedish/Providence Breast Center.

It's called the Swedish Breast Care Express, and it will be on the road at least five days a week; bringing mammography to women in remote, rural areas.

"They've been getting sort of haphazard care," adds Dr. Kelly, "one of the barriers for women going to screening mammograms has been access."

The "Express" is the result of three years of brainstorming, fund-raising and dedication. It uses digital mammography -- only available within the last year.

"I think it is a fantastic thing to bring women in rural areas the best technology," adds Dr. Kelly. "It's not the second best, it's the best and they deserve it as much as someone living in downtown Seattle."

The real breakthrough however is adding satellite technology to the mix. The clinic, out at a remote location, can send the mammogram images via satellite in real time back to radiologists in Seattle for instant interpretation. So while the woman is waiting in the mobile clinic, the doctor in Seattle immediately checks her mammogram. And if another test is required, they can do it right then and there.

"I think it will make a huge difference in the lives of women that do not have access to mammography services," adds Kelly Shaw, manager of the Breast Center.

In fact, they believe this clinic will save lives. Swedish/Providence believes it will be able to screen another 6,000 women a year who are not currently getting mammograms. The cost is similar to a typical mammogram and is covered by most standard insurance carriers.

The Breast Care Express will make its first stop in two weeks at the Latina Women's Health Fair and then head out to the Quinault Indian Reservation.

For more information about Swedish’s mobile mammography program, call (206) 320-4800.