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After two-year hiatus, the Sentara 3D mammography van returns to communities in NoVA and beyond

by | Mar 26, 2023 | Health & Wellness

Sentara Northern Virginia Medical Center announces that its 3D mammography van will begin visiting communities throughout its service area beginning March 30, 2023. Challenges brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic and supply chain issues for parts needed for repair kept the van out of service in 2021 and 2022.

An important community resource that had been providing screenings to many under-served communities since 2012, the 3D mammography van returns to service on March 30 with a trip down I-95 to Glen Allen, Virginia, a rural community about 50 miles south of the Sentara Northern Virginia Medical Center.

The 3D mammography van brings the same state-of-the-art technology that a patient would receive in a Sentara facility into area communities. 3D mammography is the current standard of care for breast cancer screenings and has been proven to find smaller tumors at earlier stages than traditional 2D mammograms. The mobile unit is designed for comfort, with private dressing rooms, central air/heating, and a platform step for safer entry.

“We know that detecting breast cancer early, before it has spread, saves lives,” said Melissa Botelho, manager of radiology at Sentara Northern Virginia Medical Center. “By coming into the community or directly to a workplace, the mobile mammography van will bring screening services to those who might not otherwise get this necessary care.”

“The mobile mammography team is committed to organizing as many screening events as possible to underserved areas and businesses in Northern Virginia throughout the year,” added Botelho.

Mammograms will be available to all individuals. If a patient has health insurance, that information will be gathered in advance over the phone and on-site, and if a patient is uninsured or underinsured, they can complete an application to qualify for financial assistance. Lack of insurance will not be a barrier to receiving care.

“Helping ensure more equitable access to healthcare in our communities is a priority throughout Sentara Healthcare and we’re working with many community partners and organizations to increase access for the diverse populations in our region,” said Alice Tang, DO, MPH, MBA, vice president and chief medical officer at Sentara Northern Virginia Medical Center. “At Sentara, we want to give people the access they need with cultural humility, when they need it, and where it makes the most sense for them.”

Up to 20 mammography appointments can be scheduled in a single day. The mammography van is available for events Monday through Friday. Sentara will also focus on partnering with community organizations and local businesses to provide convenient screenings for employees. In the past, the 3D Mammography Van has gone to local businesses in Northern Virginia that have included Microsoft, Raytheon, and GEICO.

“You just never know who you’re going to reach whenever you go out into the community,” said Tracie Mayhew, Sentara mobile mammography driver and coordinator. “We had one patient who had a mammogram with us that lead to the discovery of her breast cancer. She was able to get a mastectomy before the cancer advanced and she credits her screening with saving her life. She returns to visit us every time we’re in the area to thank us and spread the news about timely mammograms. It’s a great reminder of the difference we make.”

Based on the Sentara Cancer Network’s screening guidelines for a person at average risk for breast cancer, women should start receiving an annual mammogram at the age of 40 after an informed discussion with their healthcare provider. For those with a family history of breast cancer or other related concerns, earlier screenings are recommended.

In 2022, Sentara Healthcare provided nearly 17,000 mammograms and more than 2,800 community members participated in cancer screenings through prevention and early detection events held across Virginia and North Carolina. To learn more about Sentara’s mobile mammography services, click here.

If you would like to schedule the 3D mobile mammography van, send your request to [email protected] or call 703-523-1997.

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