Mobile mammogram unit gets new wheels

By Michaela Morris/NEMS Daily Journal

TUPELO – Mammography has a brand new ride around Northeast Mississippi.
The new North Mississippi Medical Center Mobile Mammography Unit will hit the road Monday.
The rolling medical office decorated on the outside with a giant pink ribbon and NMMC blue replaces the old unit which had been delivering breast cancer-detecting X-rays since 1994.
“It was past ready to retire,” said Sherry Craig, technical director for the NMMC Breast Care Center, as she gave a tour of the new unit on Thursday.
In addition to more comfortable surroundings for the mammography technicians and patients, the new set of wheels is carrying new digital mammography equipment.
“Since 2006, we’ve had digital mammography at the breast care center,” Craig said, and it’s exciting to be able to bring that technology to the region.
Digital mammography equipment eliminates the need to process films, and technicians can instantly see if they need to take more images, Craig said. For women with denser breasts, digital mammography can be more accurate, revealing smaller lesions. The mammograms will continue to be interpreted by radiologists at the NMMC Breast Care Center in Tupelo.
The new unit and digital mammography equipment cost about $800,000.
“The upgrade in technology was a big part of it,” said Gordon Holloway, director of radiology. “It was a significant commitment.”
Busy schedule
The mobile mammogram unit keeps a brisk schedule for 51 weeks a year and typically covers an area that stretches from Iuka to Eupora and Oxford to Hamilton, Ala. Annual mammograms are generally recommended for women over 40 to detect breast cancer at the earliest possible stages.
The crew sets up at medical clinics and hospitals, factories and large businesses, and church and community events.
“We even go to the Sweet Potato Festival,” in Vardaman, Craig said, and usually attract a crowd.
In 2009, the unit provided mammograms to 3,000 women. Over the course of the old unit’s lifespan, it served more than 35,000 women.
The old unit and its equipment now will be retired from service with the hospital system.
Contact Michaela Gibson Morris at (662) 678-1599 or michaela.morris@djournal.com.

In your area
- Before Labor Day, the new NMMC Mobile Mammography Unit is scheduled to be in four Northeast Mississippi towns:
Aug. 23-24: Fulton Medical
Clinic
Aug. 25-27: NMMC-Hamilton
Aug. 30-31: NMMC-Iuka
Sept. 1-3: NMMC-Pontotoc

Screening mammograms cost $153. Call (662) 377-4910 or (866) 912-1486 to make an appointment. Schedule for the unit through the end of October is available at
www.nmhs.net/mobile_mammo.php.