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Upstate University Hospital’s mammography van gets rolling

By Eric Reinhardt

Date:

Seeks to boost screenings in eight counties, starting in June     

Upstate University Hospital on May 7 introduced its mammography van during an event at its Community Campus in the town of Onondaga. The state awarded Upstate a three-year, $3.2 million grant to provide “easy access” to breast-cancer screenings for women in eight counties under Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s “No Excuses, Get Screened” initiative. (ERIC REINHARDT / BJNN)

ONONDAGA — Upstate University Hospital will be making its mammography van available for breast-cancer screenings in eight counties beginning in June.

The van is “aimed at ensuring easy access” to screenings in counties that include Onondaga, Madison, Oswego, Oneida, Herkimer, Jefferson, Lewis, and St. Lawrence, Upstate Medical University said in a May 7 news release.

Upstate held a morning ceremony that same day to unveil the new van at its Community Campus at 4900 Broad Road in the town of Onondaga.

The van, funded by a grant from the New York State Department of Health, is part of Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s “No Excuses, Get Screened” breast-cancer initiative. 

The van and equipment cost more than $833,000, Darryl Geddes, director of public and media relations at Upstate Medical University, told CNYBJ at the event. The grant funding totals $3.2 million for operating costs over three years, he added.

The initiative is aimed at “getting rid of obstacles to breast-cancer screening for women in New York,” per the Upstate release.

The average rate for screening mammography in New York is 81 percent. Cuomo’s initiative seeks to increase screening rates by 10 percent over the next five years.

In her remarks, New York Lt. Gov. Kathy Hochul noted that Cuomo announced the program a few years ago after his girlfriend, Sandra Lee, was diagnosed with a serious form of breast cancer.

“This [mammogram] van is going to open up a whole new opportunity for people to literally take care of themselves so they can be healthy and live a good life,” said Hochul. 

Upstate University Hospital is launching the mammography van because it’s an academic medical center, so the community “looks to us to be leaders in health care and technology,” Robert Corona, CEO of Upstate University Hospital, said in his remarks. 

A hospital “originated as a place where guests come when they’re suffering,” and officials are “fortunate” when people can get to the facility and get treatment, Corona said. 

“Unfortunately, there’s a number of people that can’t access our hospital, and so we have an obligation to reach out to them,” he added. 

He noted it’s services like the van, telemedicine, and other technologies that help people get the care they need when they can’t get to the hospital. 

 

About the van

The mammogram van spans 45 feet and includes a 3D digital-mammogram system, a private exam and dressing room, and a waiting room.

Upstate will have a staff of eight to 10 people working with the van as it visits the eight counties, Wendy Hunt, the mammography van’s program manager, said in her remarks during the ceremony. 

Columbus, Ohio–based Farber Specialty Vehicles built the vehicle.

“It has state-of-the-art 3D mammography equipment. It’s the same equipment that is used here at Upstate at both imaging centers. We will have technologists that have been working here at Upstate for the past two years working on the van as well,” said Hunt.

The van has a small reception area where the registration staff will check patients in when they arrive. It also has dressing rooms and a room where a technologist will perform the mammogram. 

“It should take a total of maybe 15, 20 minutes we hope to get them in and out … They should get their results, probably, within two to 10 business days. They’ll get them by mail,” said Hunt. 

 

Eligibility, availability

To be eligible for a mammogram on the van, women should be 40 years of age or older, have a doctor’s order for a mammogram, not have had a mammogram in the past 12 months, and not be having breast problems, per the release.

Any woman who doesn’t have health insurance will be connected to the state’s cancer services program that can arrange coverage for a mammogram and any subsequent care needed, Geddes told CNYBJ in a follow up email message.

 

The van will visit various locations in June across Central and Northern New York, often partnering with municipalities and other organizations that provide space to host the mammography-van screenings. Kinney Drugs is partnering with Upstate University Hospital to make the service available at many of its upstate New York stores.

A list of locations and dates is available at the Upstate University Hospital website.

The van is also available to corporations, businesses and other institutions, like universities, that may want to offer mammograms to their employees.    

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