One such project was recently launched in Philadelphia by Siemens Healthineers, in collaboration with Penn Medicine/University of Pennsylvania and the Christian Compassionate Church in Philadelphia. The goal is to use mobile mammography to achieve equal health care for all women.
The mammography initiative offers specific benefits to women 40 and older living in West Philadelphia for whom there are barriers to annual breast cancer detection. The free screenings started on Sunday June 12 with a health fair and continued until Friday June 24.
The mobile mammography service was a joint project between Siemens Healthineers and Penn Medicine/University of Pennsylvania and the Christian Compassionate Church in Philadelphia. This was the second collaboration between Siemens Healthineers and Penn Medicine, with the first taking place in October 2021.
The Philadelphia community’s response to the mobile mammography initiative has been impressive with more than 180 breast exams performed over a period of nearly two weeks. The popularity of the project highlights that some communities remain outside the margins of the health system and do not receive appropriate diagnostic care for breast cancer.
The following breast cancer statistics, especially with the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, are sobering:
- According to the American Cancer Society, one in eight women will be diagnosed with breast cancer.
- The COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in an 8% drop in breast cancer screening rates in communities of color, according to the American Cancer Society.
- According to an article published in Radiology in 2022.
At the Christian Compassionate Church in Philadelphia, discussions within the church community raised awareness that there were unmet health needs among many in the community, said associate pastor Terrilynn Donnell.
“We were seeing a lot of people in our community who don’t necessarily have a primary physician,” Donnell said. “They use the emergency room as their primary contact with health care. They weren’t getting screenings, regular checkups, or preventative health care. There were disparities in health care.”
The church has recognized that these disparities represent an opportunity as its mission is to focus on the general welfare of community members.
“We are not only concerned with their spiritual life, but we are also concerned with their whole life, which means physically, mentally, financially and emotionally,” she said.
Together, the Christian Compassionate Church and Penn Medicine introduced the mobile unit to the community through social media, flyers and word of mouth. Once the mobile unit was in action, women who had mammograms were encouraged to recommend that friends, colleagues and family members also visit the mobile mammography unit.
Donnell noted that some women who had mammograms through the mobile unit had never had one before and were already in their 70s and older.
“A woman told me she was afraid to have a mammogram,” Donnell said. “This project was a major achievement and a great success. It was an opportunity for women who were delaying getting tested, or who were nervous about it, or who didn’t have health insurance, to get tested. “
Disparities affect women of color
Indeed, disparities in health care disproportionately affect women of color, according to Dr. Linda White Nunes, vice president of inclusion, diversity, and equity and associate professor of clinical radiology at Penn. Medicine/University of Pennsylvania.
“We’re trying to overcome what’s called the ‘social determinants of health’ that are supposed to prevent individuals from accessing health care,” said Nunes, who was on site for several days of the two-day mobile project. weeks and was very encouraged by the community. answer. “Things like finances, lack of insurance, lack of trust, lack of a primary care provider, or lack of transportation are barriers. We wanted to overcome those barriers so women could get tested.”
The COVID-19 pandemic has also served to keep women away from healthcare facilities, delaying annual breast cancer screening, Nunes said.
“We have definitely seen, because of COVID, that there has been a decrease in testing,” she said.
Even though the project was mobile, that didn’t mean the quality of the diagnostic tools was less than optimal, Nunes pointed out.
“It’s cutting-edge technology for screening women,” she said. “It’s the same technology that you would find in the hospital.”
The Mobile Mammography Service showcased the latest in breast imaging technology.
Once screened at the mobile unit, women received their results within days directly from a radiologist, Nunes noted.
The organizers intend to make this mobile mammography project an annual event.
“It turned out to be the perfect combination of community, technology and medicine,” Nunes said. “It was a great example of partners working together.”
Democratize health care
This sentiment was echoed by leaders of Siemens Healthineers, which provided mammography equipment and other support services. The company is dedicated to democratizing health care in radiology, according to David Pacitti, President and Head of Americas, Siemens Healthineers North America.
“Siemens Healthineers’ participation in this mobile mammography screening initiative demonstrates our unwavering commitment to ensuring greater access to healthcare for everyone, everywhere,” said Pacitti.
Abby Weldon, senior director of women’s health business at Siemens Healthineers North America, agrees and says, “This mobile mammography initiative with Penn Medicine will provide low-income and minority women in the Philadelphia area access to the kinds of early detection resources that can save lives.”
“We hope that efforts like these will draw much-needed attention to the urgent need to eliminate disparities in cancer detection, care and outcomes among underserved communities,” Weldon said.
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