New mammography unit hits the road

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, February 7, 2024

RUSSELL, Ky. — Wrapped in pink and white, UK King’s Daughters new mobile mammography unit was unveiled last Wednesday at the King’s Daughters Pavilion in Russell, Kentucky.

This is the second unit the hospital now has in service. Their first one has been in service since 2008 and has accrued a lot of miles in Southern Ohio and Eastern Kentucky.

UK King’s Daughter President CEO Sara Marks said the old unit had helped It serves about 2,500 people a year in Kentucky and Ohio and has rolled over 240,000 miles in a 75-mile radius.

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She said the wear and tear on the original unit created a lot of down time and caused them to have to cancel appointments.

In 2021, hospital officials began looking for a new unit and in 2022, they signed an agreement with Farber Specialty Vehicles of Columbus, Ohio to build the new unit. The plan included using the 3D mammography unit from the older vehicle.

The hospital was talking with the Kentucky Department of Health about the new unit and there was a discussion if UK King’s Daughter could expand their services and provide more access to screening mammograms.

The new unit is 41 feet long, has a built-in generator, a wheelchair lift and dedicated Wi-Fi that can transmit images to radiologists to read in real time. It had a price tag of $1.1 million.

The hospital invested in the new unit because its service is highly needed in the area.

“There are only five in the state (of Kentucky) and we have two of them,” said Doretha Pridemore, RN, BSN, the clinical supervisor at King’s Daughters Breast Care Center. “It is a lot of work to get the mobile out there and get to the community and set it up. We go to almost all of our family medical centers and set up and a few other places.

She said that some people have to drive two hours just to get a mammogram.

“That is why we are so tickled to have this,” Pridemore said. “Because we are able to take it to more rural places where people don’t have access or can’t come into the city because they don’t have transportation. We are taking it to them.”

The old unit is still in service, although it won’t be on the road much anymore.

Now known as Mammo1, will be parked at the hospital’s outreach center in Prestonsburg, Kentucky to serve 20 clients a day.

“Having two units to screen women in Eastern Kentucky and Southern Ohio is such a blessing,” Marks said.

The new one has a 3D mammography unit, which takes one millimeter image slices so the person analyzing the images gets a better chance of finding cancer cells.

“It does the same exact test as if they came to the hospital or the imaging center,” Pridemore said.

The hospital didn’t plan to have two mobile mammography units but when they were talking with the Kentucky Department of Health about the new unit, there was a discussion if UK King’s Daughter could expand their services and provide more access to screenings and mammograms.

“Doretha jokingly said if you can come up with half million dollars for 3D mammography equipment, we could potentially keep our existing unit in a rural location in Kentucky, that way creating greater access,” Mark said. “So after a brief pause on the phone call, they said ‘maybe. Let me give you a call back.’”

After some time, a grant was provided to keep both units in service.

Pridemore said that if women do not have insurance or are underinsured, they shouldn’t be deterred from getting a mammogram because the hospital has grant money that can be used.

“Actually, with this new mobile unit, we got a state grant that pays for mammograms if they don’t have insurance or are under-insured,” she said.

To schedule a mammogram, call at 606-408-1111. To talk to someone at the breast center, call 606-408-2650.