Important screening rolls into communities

The Dana-Farber Mammography Van.

In an inconspicuous parking lot just off of Blue Hill Avenue in Mattapan, cars and taxis pulled up to a parked, converted RV and left after a brief 20 minutes.

Inside the van, women were getting potentially live-saving screenings.

“We have a lot of people that are new to the area or country and have never had a mammogram before,” said Tarma Johnson, the director of clinical health services at the Mattapan Community Health Center.

Through a partnership with the health center, the Dana Farber Cancer Institute’s mammography van rolls into Mattapan about twice a month and patients receive screenings after getting a recommendation from the center.

The van includes digital equipment for instantaneous results as well as an interpreter who can explain the process to the women.

Donna Orlando, a mammogram technician on the van, said that many of the women who come to the van are from other countries and have never had a mammogram or even been seen by a doctor.

The van rolls into various communities from Waltham and Brockton to Allston and the Fenway about three days a week. About 40 women were screened on a recent trip to Allston, technicians said.

With health officials recommending women over age 40 have a mammogram once every year or two, the mobile health screening is important, medical professionals said, because it breaks down barriers that prohibit women from receiving the care.

“Some of these ladies don’t have the money to get in a cab or a bus and go to a hospital,” said Orlando. “We’re breaking down financial barriers, too.”


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