BATON ROUGE, La. -- Nov. 15 marks the 16th year of operation for Woman’s first digital mammography coach. The coach, nicknamed “Bessie,” has provided life-saving screenings to more than 39,000 women in 32 parishes and has diagnosed more than 320 breast cancers.
Woman’s mobile mammography program increases women’s accessibility to mammograms by bringing screenings to churches, workplaces, grocery stores and community centers in parishes across the state. Through Bessie, Woman’s employees can provide essential services to those who need it most.
We are incredibly proud of our mobile mammography program and the many lives it has touched," said Glenn Augustine, Director of Imaging Services at Woman’s. "It has taken dedication from many on our team throughout the years to maintain and grow this life-saving program for communities across the state."
Woman’s began its mobile program in 1995 following a study that indicated women in Louisiana could not access mammography screening. At the time, many parishes had no mammography providers. The program started with two vans containing mammography units that were taken into physicians’ offices, local health units and around the community.
Within the first decade of the program, it became clear that many women in Louisiana desperately needed mobile mammography services. In 2005, providers realized the demand for these services warranted a larger vehicle, one with upgraded technology that used digital imaging rather than film. In light of this need, Woman’s introduced Bessie to its patients.
More than 95% of breast cancer cases are treated successfully when detected early, and, according to the American Cancer Society, women ages 40 and over should receive annual mammograms. Bessie, along with the second mobile mammography coach, features 3D mammography technology, which assists in diagnosing cancer as early as possible. 3D mammography produces clear, precise images that allow doctors to pinpoint abnormalities with greater accuracy. Only 12 mammography coaches in the U.S. currently feature 3D technology.
Breast cancer affects women of all races, socioeconomic statuses and geographic areas, and the coach’s exterior design reflects the diverse women it will serve throughout Louisiana. The overall goal of the program is to reduce Louisiana’s breast cancer mortality rate, which is the second highest in the nation, through early detection and intervention.
The Woman’s Hospital mammography coach schedule can be found online at womans.org/mammography. Women can also contact 225-341-1288 to schedule an appointment at a convenient location.