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A technologist stands beside an X-ray machine used for mammograms
August 8, 2018

Add a mammogram to your summer to-do list

With just a few weeks left until teachers and students return to the classroom, and the rest of us say goodbye to memories of our summer vacations, it’s a good time to check a few last items off your summer to-do list.

If you are a woman over 50 and haven’t had a mammogram recently, or never had one before, you should move this to the top of your list.

“The biggest challenge for many women is time,” says Kathleen Bell, clinical manager of Hamilton Health Sciences’ (HHS) CIBC Breast Assessment Centre (BAC). “Women tend to juggle a lot on the go and sometimes don’t make themselves a priority.”

Staff contest increases awareness

One of the ways the BAC tried to encourage people to get a screening mammogram was to hold a contest in the spring aimed at HHS staff members. Many employees are not aware the BAC is home to a large Ontario Breast Screening Program (OBSP).

The idea behind the contest was to let colleagues know how easy it is to drop-in for a screening.

Dana Petrucelli, an X-ray technologist at HHS, worked with her team in the BAC to launch the contest at what is traditionally a less popular time to get a mammogram. They piloted it at Juravinski Hospital and Cancer Centre (JHCC) where the BAC is located.

“During the summer months, people think about vacations and may not focus as much on their own health,” says Dana, a 28-year employee who has worked almost exclusively with mammograms her entire career. “We wanted to take action and engage more women in breast cancer screening.”

Close to 100 staff members at JHCC participated in the month-long contest, which helped contribute to the BAC exceeding its monthly target for that month. The winner won a gift card to use at the hospital’s cafes.

Dana and her team are looking at ways to expand the promotion to everyone at HHS.

Delivering another CQI improvement

The BAC is a Continuous Quality Improvement (CQI) unit at HHS. CQI is a management system launched in 2016 that encourages a new way of thinking. It has since rolled out to over 40 units with plans to expand to more this fall.

The main purpose of the system is to empower front-line staff to find solutions to everyday issues—a bottom up approach to managing operations and delivering improvements.

The contest was one of the improvement opportunities implemented right away and is considered a “Just Do It” task.

Units at HHS have implemented over 2,000 improvements since CQI was introduced.

Benefits of a mammogram at the Breast Assessment Centre

Patients equate their experience at the BAC to visiting a spa, says Dana. A purpose-built space filled with natural light, it has won multiple awards for its design as a welcoming and warm environment.

“I’ve heard from many patients it’s a wonderful experience when they enter our building,” says Dana. “Personally, I like to make each patient feel comfortable and answer all their questions. It can be a high-anxiety experience for some but we aim to make things just a bit easier for them.”

The BAC performs around 1,000 screens every month. The team continues to raise awareness throughout the summer.

Through the OBSP, eligible women with no symptoms of breast cancer between the ages 50-74 can self-refer for a mammogram and do not need a doctor’s referral. You can visit the BAC to book a mammogram or call 905-389-0101.