Reading Hospital unveils new mobile unit to perform mammography screenings

·3 min read

Sep. 23—The Reading Hospital Foundation this week introduced its new mobile mammography bus, a vehicle officials say will allow the hospital to better provide breast cancer diagnoses and treatment.

The service will positively impact the health of the community since 1 in 8 women will develop breast cancer in their lifetimes, most of whom don't have a family history of the disease, foundation officials said in a press release.

More than a quarter-million women are diagnosed with breast cancer in America each year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Some 42,000 women each year die of it, but early detection is key to fighting the disease and the mobile mammography van will help women with that, officials said.

The American College of Radiology recommends women get their first mammogram at the age of 40.

"We know early detection saves lives when a woman is diagnosed with breast cancer," said Dr. Charles Barbera, Reading Hospital president and CEO. "Reading Hospital prides itself on being a partner, and we are committed to ensuring all women have access to mammogram services, including those underinsured and those without insurance."

Outfitted with the latest technology, including 3D tomosynthesis, the mobile mammography bus uses a digital mammography screening tool that improves the accuracy of imaging, reducing unneeded follow-up visits, and enables caregivers to detect more invasive cancers. Women who use the mobile mammography unit will get the same care as they do at any of Tower Health's mammography imaging locations, with coordinated scheduling, testing, follow-up, and referrals, officials said.

"Our most recent Community Health Needs Assessment identified access to health services as a challenge for many in our community," said Desha Dickson, Tower Health vice president of diversity, equity, inclusion and community wellness.

"I'm proud to share we have 48 mobile mammography screening events scheduled through the end of the year," Dickson said. "These events will bring life-saving screenings directly to our patients and remove any transportation barriers they may face."

Individuals interested in scheduling an appointment should call 484-628-8611. The Patient Financial Assistance Program will work to enroll women who are under- or uninsured and meet eligibility requirements. Those with questions can call the Reading Hospital financial counselors at 484-628-7400.

To learn more about hosting an event in Berks, contact Ashley Gallen, program coordinator at 484-628-2208 or email ashley.gallen@towerhealth.org.

Fundraising for the mobile mammography coach was done in 2020 and 2021 through a combination of donations, pledges, grants and the Pennsylvania Neighborhood Assistance Program tax credit program.

Capital Blue Cross has contributed $20,000 toward Reading Hospital's Mobile Mammography Patient Assistance Fund, which helps provide mammograms and breast-cancer education to uninsured and underinsured women in the region.

"Capital Blue Cross is proud to support this vital service to women in Berks County and the region who need it the most," said Capital Blue Cross Vice President of Corporate Social Responsibility Susan Hubley. "Our contribution is part of Capital's commitment to go the extra mile to help bring mammograms to women who might otherwise not have access to them."

Donations are being accepted to support the fund, and those interested in donating can visit towerhealth.org/RHFoundation, click "Make a Gift," and select "Mobile Mammography Coach" from the Gift Purpose drop down menu.