Mobile mammography project brings benefits to Philadelphia community

One such project was recently started in Philadelphia by Siemens Healthineers in collaboration with Penn Medicine/University of Pennsylvania and the Church of Christian Compassion in Philadelphia. The aim is to achieve equal health care for all women with mobile mammography.

The Mammography Initiative offers special benefits to women ages 40 and older living in West Philadelphia who face barriers to annual breast cancer detection. The free screenings began on Sunday 12th June with a health fair and lasted until Friday 24th June.

The mobile mammography service was a joint project between Siemens Healthineers and Penn Medicine/University of Pennsylvania and the Church of Christian Compassion in Philadelphia. This was the second collaboration between Siemens Healthineers and Penn Medicine, the first taking place in October 2021.

The response from the Philadelphia community to the mobile mammography initiative has been impressive, with over 180 breast exams performed over a period of nearly two weeks. The project’s popularity underscores the fact that some communities remain outside the health care system and do not receive adequate diagnostic care when it comes to breast cancer.

Sobering statistics

The following statistics surrounding breast cancer, especially with the arrival 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 led to an 8% drop in breast screening rates in communities of color, according to the American Cancer Society.
  • According to a radiology in 2022.

At the Church of Christian Compassion in Philadelphia, discussions within the congregation led to a recognition that many parishioners had unmet health needs, said Associate Pastor Terrilynn Donnell.

“We’ve seen a lot of people in our community who don’t necessarily have a GP,” Donnell said. “They use the ER as their primary point of contact for health care. They received no screenings or regular check-ups or preventive health care. There were disparities in healthcare.”

The Church recognized that these differences represent an opportunity as its mission is to focus on the overall well-being of members of the community.

“We don’t just take care of her spiritual life, we take care of her whole life — that is, physically, mentally, financially and emotionally,” she said.

Together, the Church of Christian Compassion and Penn Medicine educated the community about the mobile unit through social media channels, flyers, and word of mouth. Once the mobile unit was operational, women undergoing mammography were encouraged to refer their friends, colleagues, and family members to visit the mobile mammography unit as well.

Donnell noted that some women who underwent mammography through the mobile unit had never had a mammogram before and were in their 70s and older.

“A woman told me she was scared of a mammogram,” Donnell said. “This project was a great achievement and a great success. It was an opportunity for women who were procrastinating or nervous or who did not have health insurance to get screened.”

Inequalities affect women of color

according to dr Linda White Nunes, vice chair for inclusion, diversity and equity and associate professor of clinical radiology at Penn Medicine/University of Pennsylvania, indeed, health care inequalities disproportionately affect women of color.

“We’re trying to overcome the so-called ‘social determinants of health,’ which are thought to keep individuals from accessing health care,” said Nunes, who was on site for several days of the two-week mobile project and was greatly encouraged by the community Answer. “Things like finances, lack of insurance, lack of trust, lack of first aid or means of transport are obstacles. We wanted to overcome these obstacles so women could be screened.”

The COVID-19 pandemic has also helped keep women away from health care facilities and delayed annual breast cancer screening, Nunes said.

“We definitely found that screening was reduced because of COVID,” she said.

Although the project was mobile, this did not mean that the quality of the diagnostic tools was not optimal, stressed Nunes.

“This is cutting-edge technology for examining women,” she said. “This is the same technology that would be found in the hospital.”

The mobile mammography service was equipped with the latest breast imaging technology.

The mobile mammography service was equipped with the latest breast imaging technology.

Once the screening was done in the mobile unit, the women received their results directly from a radiologist within days, Nunes noted.

The organizers plan to make this mobile mammography project an annual event.

“This turned out to be the perfect combination of community, technology and medicine,” Nunes said. “It was a great example of partners working together.”

democratization of healthcare

That sentiment was shared by Siemens Healthineers executives, who provided mammography equipment and other support. According to David Pacitti, President and Head of the Americas at Siemens Healthineers North America, the company is committed to democratizing healthcare delivery in radiology.

“Siemens Healthineers’ participation in this mobile mammography screening initiative demonstrates our unwavering commitment to ensure better access to healthcare for everyone, everywhere,” said Pacitti.

Abby Weldon, senior director of the women’s health business at Siemens Healthineers North America, agreed, saying, “This mobile mammography initiative with Penn Medicine will give low-income and minority women in the Philadelphia area access to the screening resources that are possible Save lives.”

“We hope efforts like this will draw much-needed attention to the urgent need to eliminate disparities in cancer detection, care and treatment in underserved communities,” Weldon said.

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