It just happened to catch her eye.
On a September morning in 2022, a woman was heading in to work when the bright colors of the mobile mammography unit, affectionately called the “mamm-o-van,” caught her attention.
She had never used the van before for her regular mammograms, and knew she must be getting close to her yearly check-up, so she walked right in.
“The scheduler was new,” the woman, who wishes to remain anonymous, shares. “They were busy, but they fit me in, and they even went out of their way to access my prior mammograms.”
Then she went on about her day.
“I was at home when I got the call that they found something on my mammogram,” she continues. “The radiologist got me in to the Mercy Health – St. Charles Hospital breast cancer center the next day for an ultrasound. I will never forget how kind she was and what great follow-up she had. The team at St. Charles was beyond accommodating.”
The woman had two types of invasive breast cancer and would need surgery.
“I thought I was under a year since my last mammogram, and it had been 14 months,” she shares. “Time gets away from us, and especially for fast-growing cancers, it is critical to catch them early. I am so grateful for the mobile unit being there at that time. It is great to have that visual reminder of the van; to walk up and see it is powerful.”
Meet the team behind mobile mammography in Toledo
The Mercy Health mobile mammography unit is made up of a passionate team dedicated to service led by Tina Gray, RT (R)(M).
Tina, now in her 18th year as a mammographer, says she pursued the degree because she wanted to help others.
“In mammography you generally get to spend more time with your patients and really get to know them,” Tina says. “Following up with them from year to year is always enjoyable, too.”
Tina is joined in her mobile service by Hannah Vantrease, RT (R)(M), Ashley Fife, RT (R)(M), mammogram technologist and Jamie Heath, the unit’s driver and registration professional.
“We usually have a full schedule and there is really a need for this service,” Tina explains.
During its three years in service, the mobile unit has traveled the Toledo area, visiting our ministry’s facilities, other businesses and special events, using its mobility as a tool to serve underserved areas.
“I am always appreciative of our ability to visit some of the more underserved communities and areas,” Ashley shares. “We have the convenience of bringing breast imaging to the individual’s location within reason.”
Jamie, the unit’s driver and registrar, adds, “I love this job more than any other job I’ve ever had because I am a cancer survivor. To be able to bring this service to women that need it makes it very special to me.”
The van itself is large and boasts a dressing room, 3D technology and even has coverage options for those who are uninsured. Of all this though, its biggest benefit is convenience.
“Some people just prefer the mobile setting,” Tina explains. “The hospital setting can sometimes be overwhelming for patients, and we just love that we have another option to give our patients if they want it.”
The van does take walk-ins, and, in fact, received a special thank you from the woman who had her mammogram on the mobile unit and was then diagnosed with breast cancer.
“She was so appreciative,” Tina recalls. “She was in tears, saying without this bus I would never have stopped.”
That patient is one of many, and our ministry is so thankful for this team as well as their eagerness and skill to serve a variety of locations throughout northwest Ohio with a smile.
Learn more about the mammogram and breast imaging services we provide at Mercy Health.