Mobile Mammography van returns to South Bronx

June 6, 2013 2:50:14 PM PDT
St. Barnabas Hospital is rolling out a way for women to get their yearly breast cancer screenings.

It's a free diagnostic tool. The St. Barnabas' Mobile Mammography Van allows women to walk right in - even if they don't have insurance. Appointments are recommended, but not needed. You don't even have to live in the area to step inside and get screened.

The new and state of the art mobile mammography van in the South Bronx replaces the old one that broke down for good two years ago.

"They can walk up to the bus, knock on the door and basically get the service done," Mathew Thomas Jr. of St. Barnabas hospital.

This potentially life-saving service makes it easier for women to be screened for breast cancer.

"If these vans are available, more people are more apt to go up to it," patient Sandra Abersley said.

Carmen Sanchez used to sometimes skip getting a mammogram because it wasn't convenient, but not anymore.

"It's close to my house. I don't have to walk or take a train or anything like that," Sanchez said.

On this day, the van was parked at East 149th Street. About twice a week it heads out to health fairs or can be found outside of places like apartment buildings, beauty parlors and houses of worship.

"This is the best education tool we have to reach these women, to have the available service in the community where they shop, where they work and where they live," Dr. Ilmana Fulger of St. Barnabas Hospital said.

The van serves low-income neighborhoods in the South Bronx -- hard to reach communities where many women are immigrants. Some have never even had a mammogram. Others are afraid to get one because of their immigration status.

"Many of our patients are uninsured, underinsured. They're poor, so we are we are reaching a lot of patients," Dr. Fulger said.

In addition, the hospital an emphasis is placed on making sure women get follow up diagnostic care if a suspicious lump is found.

"We literally go after them and make sure they receive the follow up care they need," he said.

It also has the capacity to screen twice as many women for breast cancer than the old van. The mammography van can screen an estimated 5,000 women annually it operates year round.

For more information about the van, please visit St. Barnabas' website by clicking here.

You can make an appointment or get the van's schedule for stops by calling 718-960-3931.