Posted in Health Care, March 1, 2021
Outside view of new Mammography van
Mammography van parked at remote site in Forest Grove.

New specialized screening van offers critical exams to assist in breast cancer prevention and early detection

Early detection of breast cancer can reduce the risk of invasive surgeries or treatments, as well as death. Mammography, an x-ray of the breast, is the most effective screening tool for finding evidence of breast cancer early. However, across the United States, less than 65%  of women aged 45 or older regularly receive mammograms as recommended by the American Cancer Society.

Reasons for delaying mammography are vast, and range from limited access – due to physical proximity, or cost – lack of time, or even fear. This is particularly true as patients worldwide continue to postpone preventative health care due to safety concerns associated with visiting a medical setting during the novel coronavirus.

To help improve safe access and increase the rate of early breast cancer detection in Oregon, OHSU Health Hillsboro Medical Center (formerly Tuality Healthcare) has introduced our new mobile mammography van bringing state-of-the-art 3D screenings, called Digital Breast Tomosynthesis, out of the clinic and into the community.

“We need to ensure individuals feel safe and are not delaying breast screenings,” says Mary Lucas Koach, director of diagnostic imaging services at Hillsboro Medical Center. “This mobile program is literally able to meet patients where they are in the community to help ensure easy and safe access to  potentially life-saving care.”

How it works

Technologists Svetlana Dieringer reviews data from a mammogram.

Technologist Svetlana Dieringer prepares the new 3D mammography tools for a patient exam.

Hillsboro Medical Center’s mammography van may be reserved by Portland-metro area community groups, organizations or businesses with 10 or more mammogram-eligible individuals interested in obtaining screening. Almost all insurance plans are accepted and you don’t have to be an OHSU Health patient to schedule an appointment.

“The process operates similar to a blood-drive, or vaccination clinic,” explains Lucas Koach. “The van will arrive at a location designated by the organization, and each individual will receive an appointment time to visit the van for their screening.”

According to Lucas Koach, each exam is performed privately inside the mobile unit which is operated by skilled technologists and professionals. Proper safety protocols such as masking, sanitization and limited group size will be followed.

The patient’s 3D images will be sent to Hillsboro Medical Center where trained radiologists review and compare patient mammograms with any prior images available, providing the highest quality interpretation. Results are then sent to the patient’s primary care physician and a result letter is sent to the patient.

A rich history of preventative care

Although it fulfills a special and important role during the pandemic, providing mobile mammography services is not new for Hillsboro Medical Center. Recognizing that many busy women in Western Washington County were not taking time to get their screening mammograms, Tuality Healthcare partnered with local employers and launched its first mammography van 25 years ago. With continuous improvements to technology since that time, Tuality Healthcare continued to bring the original mammography van to companies and groups in Hillsboro, Grand Ronde, Salem, Wilsonville, Gresham, Portland, North Plains, Banks, Vernonia, and many places in between.

Through the Tuality Foundation’s $1 million “On the Road to Prevention” campaign and the support of generous donors like the M.J. Murdock Charitable Trust that provided a $300,000 top off grant, Hillsboro Medical Center was able to purchase our new state-of-the-art mammography van to continue this service for years to come.

“OHSU Health and Hillsboro Medical Center are committed to ensuring that all individuals are able to access necessary and potentially life-saving preventative health care,” says Lori James-Nielsen, R.N., B.S.N., M.H.A., president of Hillsboro Medical Center. “We are proud to be able to expand our capabilities to provide screenings to vulnerable populations that may otherwise not have access, and we look to further broaden our reach and services to more communities in Oregon soon.”

Interested in organizing live-saving mammography via the Hillsboro Medical Center van? Contact 503-936-7149 or email mobile.mamms@tuality.org

About OHSU Health Hillsboro Medical Center

OHSU Health Hillsboro Medical Center (formerly Tuality Healthcare) is a leading health care provider in Washington County, serving a market area of 350,000 and growing. Hillsboro Medical Center is a nonprofit, community-based organization with a full-service hospital in downtown Hillsboro, and numerous physician and outpatient clinics throughout Forest Grove, Cornelius and Western Washington County. Though the medical center has roots in the community reaching back more than 100 years, its affiliation with OHSU Health is enabling it to better serve the next generation with comprehensive care close to home. With over 1200 employees, including a medical staff of 300 doctors and other health care professionals, Hillsboro Medical Center is one of the region’s largest employers.

About OHSU Health

OHSU Health is the health system that includes OHSU Healthcare, Adventist Health Portland and Hillsboro Medical Center. Comprising three adult hospitals with nearly 1,000 beds, OHSU Doernbecher Children’s Hospital and more than 50 patient care locations throughout the Portland-metro area, OHSU Health offers patients convenient access to everything from urgent care in South Hillsboro or Happy Valley, to the latest clinical trials at the South Waterfront or Marquam Hill.