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Harris Health Rolls Out $1M Mobile Unit to Screen 6,000 Women for Breast Cancer

HOUSTON (Oct. 24, 2022) — Harris Health System rolled out a brand new 45-foot mammography mobile unit with the goal of screening about 6,000 women a year for breast cancer. The $1 million mobile unit will take 3D mammography screening capability to neighborhoods across the county. 

The new mobile unit replaces a retired model that began use in 2008 and provided nearly 50,000 mammography screenings. As Harris Health increases its in-facility mammography services at some of its locations, the new mobile unit will continue to expand screenings in areas like Katy and Humble. 

“We're excited to offer the community this mobile 3D mammography unit," says Kim Douglas, BAAS, R.T., director, Imaging Services, Harris Health. “3D mammography has been proven to enable radiologists to see breast lesions more clearly and reduce the number of additional views and unnecessary biopsies. This is the latest and most modern tool available for early detection of breast cancer." 

The fully-equipped mobile unit complements the robust breast cancer screening program already in place across Harris Health. With multiple health center locations capable of offering in-house mammograms, the mobile unit will support locations with no on-site screening technology to make the service convenient and easy for patients. 

“This mobile unit has been a long-time coming," says Jennifer Small, AuD, MBA, CCC-A, executive vice president and administrator, Ambulatory Care Services, Harris Health, during a ribbon-cutting dedication for the unit on Oct. 14. “This really fills the gap for patients who just don't have the access to care. With this unit, we'll be able to provide mammography services across Harris County, and with our medical partners from Baylor College of Medicine, our patients are getting the best of the best." 

In addition to Harris Health locations, the mobile unit will visit Star of Hope Cornerstone to offer on-site screenings. The mobile unit is equipped with a 750-pound capacity electric wheelchair lift to accommodate patients with mobility challenges, a pull-out step and landing porch, powerful purifiers and dehumidifiers to protect against air-borne contaminants and two generators to avoid power outages. 

Ashley Roark, MD, medical director, Breast Imaging, Harris Health Smith Clinic, and assistant professor, Radiology, Baylor College of Medicine, says the 3D technology will help radiologists accurately diagnose breast cancer cases.  

“With this technology, we're able to improve breast cancer detection while also calling back fewer women with benign findings on their mammograms, which reduces the need for potentially unnecessary follow-ups," she adds. “The ability to take this state-of-the-art technology out into underserved areas of our community allow us to break down barriers to access, deliver the highest level of care and promote health equity for our patients, all of which are central to our mission here at Harris Health."