MUSCATINE, Iowa–During breast cancer awareness month, UnityPoint Health–Trinity strives to remind everyone about the importance of receiving recommended breast cancer screenings. To make screenings more accessible to people living in Muscatine County, UnityPoint Health–Trinity Muscatine Hospital participates in an ongoing no-cost breast cancer screening program and encourages anyone eligible to take advantage of it.
Typically, doctors recommend that women receive annual mammograms beginning at age 40, or earlier if they have a family history of breast cancer at a younger age. In instances where a man shows symptoms of breast cancer, a doctor may order a diagnostic mammogram.
To ensure that anyone who needs a screening or diagnostic mammogram, or follow up testing such as breast ultrasound or core needle biopsy (which uses a small, hollow needle to take a sample from a suspected cancerous mass), can get it, the no-cost breast cancer screening program covers all these tests for patients without insurance or with insufficient insurance and that meet certain income guidelines. If patients needs any of these breast cancer screenings, doctors simply need to write an order for the test or tests required and refer them to the program.
People may also take action to get themselves these free screenings. Anyone in need of a primary care doctor to write an order for testing may find one by calling UnityPoint Health–Trinity’s referral line at 563-262-6294. Based on patients’ specific needs and preferences, the referral line can match them to primary care providers that suits them. If patients already have an order for a screening, they may also call to schedule a screening on their own and request to participate in the free screening program. In any case, people referred to the program will need to complete only one form when they arrive for their appointments.
Over the course of the last year, 53 people have taken advantage of the no-cost breast cancer screening program, paid for by the generous support of the Trinity Health Foundation and other donations. By raising awareness of the program, Director of Outpatient Services Kelly Frick hopes to increase that number for next year. “We hear over and over again that people don’t do preventative screens because they can’t afford them and don’t want to ask for help or end up with bills from follow up,” explained Frick. “We want everyone to have early detection.”
Though breast cancer awareness month in October often leads to an increase in the number of people seeking treatment, UnityPoint Trinity can typically fit people in for testing within two weeks of when they call asking for an appointment. Additional testing options in the morning, evening, and on some Saturdays can also make scheduling an appointment more convenient.
Frick takes pride both in the efficiency of the program and the vital services it provides to keep people healthy. “I think when we look at what we need to do for our community, this is one of the best things we can do,” said Frick. “The more we can do to help people get any and all of their screens, the better for everyone.”