Harris Health rolls out $1M mobile unit to screen 6K women for breast cancer

HOUSTON – Harris Health System introduced a brand new 45-foot mobile mammography machine with a goal of screening approximately 6,000 women annually for breast cancer. The $1 million mobile unit will bring 3D mammography screening capabilities to neighborhoods across the county.

The new device replaces a retired model that went into service in 2008 and has performed nearly 50,000 mammography screenings. As Harris Health expands its in-facility mammography services at some of its locations, the new entity will continue to expand screenings in areas like Katy and Humble.

“We are excited to offer this portable 3D mammography device to the community,” said Kim Douglas, BAAS, RT, Director, Imaging Services, Harris Health. “3D mammography has been shown to enable radiologists to see breast lesions more clearly, reducing the number of additional views and unnecessary biopsies. This is the latest and most advanced breast cancer screening tool available.”

The fully equipped unit complements the robust breast cancer screening program already in place at Harris Health. With multiple health center locations capable of offering in-house mammograms, the unit will support locations without in-person screening technology to make service convenient and easy for patients.

“This mobile unit has been a long time coming,” said Jennifer Small, AuD, MBA, CCC-A, Executive Vice President and Administrator, Ambulatory Care Services, Harris Health, during an Oct. 27 opening ceremony for the unit. 14. “This really fills the gap for patients who simply don’t have access to medical care. This entity allows us to offer mammography services throughout Harris County, and with our medical partners at Baylor College of Medicine, our patients get the best of the best.”

In addition to Harris Health locations, the Star of Hope mobile unit will visit Cornerstone to provide on-site screenings. The unit is equipped with a 750-pound capacity electric wheelchair lift for patients with limited mobility, an extendable step and landing porch, powerful air cleaners and dehumidifiers to protect against airborne contaminants, and two generators to prevent power outages.

Ashley Roark, MD, Medical Director, Breast Imaging, Harris Health Smith Clinic, and Assistant Professor, Radiology, Baylor College of Medicine, says 3D technology will help radiologists accurately diagnose cases of breast cancer.

“With this technology, we are able to improve breast cancer detection while recalling fewer women with benign findings on their mammograms, reducing the need for potentially unnecessary follow-up exams,” she added. “The ability to bring this cutting-edge technology to underserved areas of our community allows us to break down barriers to access, provide the highest level of care and advance health equity for our patients, all of which are central to our mission here at Harris Health. “

For more information about Harris Health or its cancer care services, visit www.harrishealth.org

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