Coastal care van provides mammograms for uninsured women

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By Caroline Curran, Reporter

BOLIVIA—Every month, New Hanover Regional Medical Center’s Coastal Care Van cruises into five counties to provide mammograms for women, including the uninsured.

Since 1998, the Coastal Care Van has been traveling through New Hanover, Brunswick, Pender, Onslow and Duplin counties to provide women with screening mammograms.

The Coastal Care Van kicked off Breast Cancer Month on Oct. 1 by stopping at the Brunswick County Health Department to perform screening mammograms and talk about early detection.

The care van accepts private insurance, Medicaid, Medicare and BCCP.

For uninsured women, the care van provides free mammograms through New Hanover Regional Medical Center Foundation’s Pink Ribbon Fund.

Since the care van’s inception in 1998, 900-950 women received mammograms annually—one third of whom were uninsured, outreach coordinator Iris Baker said.

Between October 2007 and August 2008, money raised through the foundation provided 300 uninsured women with mammograms, and 12 women with biopsies after a suspect screening.

“The service through the care van allows women who don’t have transportation or funds to get screening mammograms,” Baker said.

Baker said the care van also goes to local businesses, which benefits the employee and employer. By receiving a screening mammogram at the coastal care van, women don’t have to miss a full day of work, Baker said.

Toinette Lanier of Calabash visited the care van when came to the Brunswick County Health Department to receive a screening mammogram. Lanier, who heard about the care van from a friend, said she would refer other women to it.

Lanier had previously been driving to Charleston, S.C., to receive her mammograms, but said since she moved to Calabash, it’s more convenient for her to drive to Bolivia.

Lanier was “very nervous” before her exam, which mammographer Jenny Connolly says is often the case.

“More than the anxiety of the exam itself, it’s the results of the exam,” Connolly explained.

But Connolly said it’s worth getting over the anxiety, and for women to get regular mammograms.

In her 10 years as a mammographer, Connolly said early detection is still the most important factor.

“I’m seeing diversity in the age group,” of women diagnosed with breast cancer, she said. “We’re not excluded because of our age.”

For more information on New Hanover Regional Medical Center’s Coastal Care Van, select “services and programs” in the top navigation box at www.NHRMC.org, and then select cancer services.