NIHD’s ‘Moonlight Mammograms’ helps many women

Press release

Northern Inyo Healthcare District officials are hailing the hospital’s first-ever Moonlight Mammograms event an enormous success.

 NIHD’s Moonlight Mammogram team pause for a photo at the start of what would be a busy evening. The team is, left to right, Admission Services Receptionist Natalie Hollowell-Santana, Mammography Technicians Cathy Poquette and Krissy Alcala, Interpreter Veronica Gonzalez, Patient Navigator Rosie Graves, Mammography Technician Katie Galvin and Admission Services Clerk Lauren Dunlap. Photo by Barbara Laughon/Northern Inyo Healthcare District

NIHD’s Moonlight Mammogram team pause for a photo at the start of what would be a busy evening. The team is, left to right, Admission Services Receptionist Natalie Hollowell-Santana, Mammography Technicians Cathy Poquette and Krissy Alcala, Interpreter Veronica Gonzalez, Patient Navigator Rosie Graves, Mammography Technician Katie Galvin and Admission Services Clerk Lauren Dunlap. Photo by Barbara Laughon/Northern Inyo Healthcare District

As part of Breast Cancer Awareness Month activities, NIHD recently held its first-ever Moonlight Mammograms on at the hospital’s Diagnostic Imaging Center. Moonlight Mammograms was designed to offer after-hours digital mammography in hopes of making the cancer screening process more convenient for women.

Eighteen women came to the facility for screening. Of those, 16 were screened using the hospital’s advanced 3D mammography system. The remaining two were scheduled for later appointments as it was not quite “one year plus one day” past their last screening, a time period required by most insurance companies.

“We hadn’t known what to expect going into this event, but the results were outstanding,” said Rosie Graves, NIHD Patient Navigator. “All the ladies who came in were overdue for their screenings by two, sometimes three or four years. We also had a couple older women come in who had never had a mammogram. We received so many compliments about our mammography technicians and how they eased any concerns the ladies had. It was just an amazing night, thanks to the NIHD team and their passion for the people we serve.”

To make the evening less stressful, educational, and more enjoyable, NIHD arranged for some pampering and education while women waited for their mammograms.

Dr. Shruti Ramakrishna, one of NIH’s three newest physicians, gave a compelling talk about how breast cancer touched her family. Dr. Ramakrishna then demonstrated how women could do monthly breast self-examinations in the privacy of their own homes.

Dr. Ramakrishna said physicians encourage breast self-exams as this helps women become familiar with how their breasts look and feel so they can alert their healthcare professional in the event of any changes.

Dr. Ramakrishna urged women to conduct the self exams at the same time each month, feeling for any lump, thickening or hardened knot. She said to always check the adjacent arm-pit for changes as well. She also encouraged yearly mammograms starting at age 40, so that women with breast cancer can have it detected while it is in its earliest, most-treatable stages.

NIHD Mammography Technician Katie Galvin explained how 3D Mammography allows for improved screenings. In 3D screenings, images of the whole breast are captured in nine separate images or slices. Those slices allow physicians to see all around and in between breast tissue, giving them greater clarity and an improved opportunity to detect breast cancer at its earliest stage.

Physical Therapist William Blake and Physical Therapist Assistant Steve Messmore of NIHD’s Rehabilitative Services joined forces with Dawn Briggs and Michael Schweitzer of Vitality Wellness Center to provide massage therapy for the participants.

Blake and Messmore offered temple and neck massages while the women waited for their screenings, while Briggs and Schweitzer offered full body massages afterward.
“The women seemed to enjoy the social aspect of this event,” said Briggs, owner of Vitality, “Yes, they were here for screenings, but it also gave them a chance to relax and interact with healthcare professionals in a different setting, and I think that made a big difference for many of them.”

Local musicians, including Darcie Khanukayev, NIHD Board of Directors member Pete Watercott and NIH nurse Sue Tonelli, provided relaxing violin music throughout the evening.

Refreshments were provided by NIHD’s Dietary Department and included finger sandwiches, petite quiches, fruit tarts and heart-shaped pink ribbon cookies.
Each woman left with a goodie bag, stuffed with Breast Cancer Awareness materials as well as some fun, pampering items.

NIHD CEO, Kevin S. Flanigan, MD, who was present for part of the evening, described the event as a resounding success. Dr. Flanigan said how grateful he was that the Breast Health Center, which was made possible through a generous donation on behalf of the District nurses, has allowed the District to expand access to the incredible array of technology services NIHD offers.

Moonlight Mammograms is part of NIHD’s ongoing effort to make preventative health care easily accessible to Northern Inyo County residents.

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About Northern Inyo Healthcare District: Founded in 1946, Northern Inyo Healthcare District features a 25-bed critical access hospital, a 24-hour emergency department, a primary care rural health clinic, a diagnostic imaging center, and clinics specializing in women’s health, orthopedics and neurology, pediatrics and allergies and general surgery. Continually striving to improve the health outcomes of those who rely on its services, Northern Inyo Healthcare District aims to improve our communities one life at a time. One team, one goal, your health.

 

 

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