A few employees at Mercy Medical Center are stepping up to offer mammogram screenings on Saturdays -- which begin today.
Anthony Cordeiro, supervisor for Imaging Services at Mercy, said what's important for the center is for people in the community to get their health care needs. The new service will target women who work during the week and aren't able to take time off to go get a mammogram during the weekdays. Cordeiro said it may be even harder for women to take days off now, given the recession.
In addition to mammograms, the center also will offer bone densitometry screenings. Cordeiro said appointments will be available from 8 a.m. to noon on Saturdays.
"We hope to continue to offer it permanently," he said. Women have to bring a doctor's order with them to their appointment.
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Robin Reese, a certified radiological technologist at Mercy, said an average of 400 mammograms are performed at the center every month -- a number that has remained steady over the last few years. She said the accuracy rate of the screening increased to 95 percent with the digital machines, which Mercy began to use in 2006.
Women in their 20s and 30s should get a clinical breast exam every three years, and women 40 and older should get a mammogram every year, according to the American Cancer Society.
"The risk factor increases as you get older," Reese said.
Cordeiro said it's important for women to get mammograms to detect any potential problems at an early stage and prevent it from spreading.
"If we are going to find cancer, let's find it at the smallest, most curable," she said.
Lupe Garcia discovered a lump in one of her breasts, but postponed getting a mammogram for four months due to the lack of financial resources to pay for it -- she isn't the only one.
Many women don't get mammogram screenings because they don't have the money. Others simply want to avoid what could be an uncomfortable situation.
Mercy spokesman Bob McLaughlin said health officials don't want price to be a barrier for women to get a mammogram. He said those without health insurance can talk to an access care specialist about the cost.
According to McLaughlin, the price will vary case by case because the center charges based on an individuals' household income.
Garcia, who eventually had a mammogram screening, said the results came out fine.
But now she wants to create awareness among other women about the importance of getting checked for breast cancer. She will host a Zumbathon exercise class, which is inpsired by Latin dance, from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Oct. 16 at the Millennium Sports Club, 350 E. Yosemite Ave.
Tickets are $20, and the money will go to the Susan G. Komen For The Cure Foundation.
To schedule an appointment for a weekend mammogram, call (209) 564-3161. To speak with an access care specialist, call (209) 564-4377. To purchase tickets for the Zumbathon, call 559-232-6403.
Reporter Yesenia Amaro can be reached at (209) 388-6507 or firstname.lastname@example.org