FORTY FORT — Any kind of “thon” involving the use of telephones usually involves soliciting money for a good cause. But not the one that Commonwealth Health held on Tuesday.
In observance of National Breast Cancer Awareness Month, scores of Commonwealth Health employees volunteered their time to call women and remind them to schedule a mammogram during the healthcare organization’s one-day “Mammo-thon.”
“Last year was the first year that Commonwealth Health had a Mammo-thon at all … of their affiliate hospitals. Last year, we called roughly 8,000 women and scheduled 700 mammograms and our goal this year is to call as many if not more than we did last year,” said Jamy Powell, clinical manager of Women’s Imaging at Wilkes-Barre General Hospital.
Next to the front desk at Wilkes-Barre General’s Center for Diagnostic Imaging on South Welles Street in Forty Fort stood a chart on an easel displaying the site goal of 150 scheduled mammogram appointments. The number of appointments made was designated by the portion of a ribbon that was filled in pink — the color representing breast cancer awareness.
Powell said the event is a friendly competition between employees at the various Commonwealth Health affiliates to see which site could make the most calls and schedule the most mammograms.
In addition to the CDI site in Forty Fort, where center employees as well as employees from InterMountain Medical Group volunteered, employees from other hospitals and facilities made mammo-thon calls from Saxton Medical Pavilion, Edwardsville; Moses Taylor Hospital, Scranton; Tyler Memorial Hospital, Tunkhannock; and Berwick Hospital Center, Berwick.
Brian Goode, director of Business Development, Imaging Services for Wilkes-Barre General, said that while the event increases business for the hospital system, that’s not the purpose or the focus. Volunteers aren’t making cold calls, they’re only calling patients from their own database who should be having mammography screenings.
“Our goal is to contact the patient and remind them of the importance of having a mammogram, making an appointment and keeping it,” Powell said.”The women who we are calling have had a mammogram done at our facility in the past 18 to 24 months but haven’t returned for one since, so we’re calling and encouraging them to make an appointment.”
Women over 40 in the system database who have never had a mammogram were also to be called.
If a woman doesn’t have health insurance or is under-insured, a representative from Maternal Family Health Services is on hand to help a woman determine if she could qualify for a free mammogram through the Susan G. Komen Foundation
“We try to take all of the obstacles out, so we get them right away to a scheduler if they’re interested in making an appointment,” Powell said. “We also help to facilitate contacting a physician and getting an order for the study to be done.”
Powell said most people are receptive to the calls.
“They appreciate that we’re taking the time to remind them of the importance of getting a yearly mammogram,” she said. “We’re committed to doing this. Hopefully there will come a day when we won’t have a list of names to call. Until that happens, we’ll continue to make calls and remind people.”