Only half of women over 40 who have insurance get annual mammograms according to a new study by Medco Health Solution, Inc. And only 65 percent of women ages 50 to 64, the group that most benefits from mammograms, are getting mammograms every two years according to the study of insurance claims from 2006 through 2009.
At Rush, we have a unique new program to encourage all women, those with and without insurance, to get annual mammograms. Shama Shrestha, RN, is Rush’s first breast health nurse navigator, a position developed to help overcome barriers such as language, health literacy, logistics and fear that have been identified as reasons why some women don’t get mammograms.
Shama provides assistance to patients throughout the continuum of care, including coordinating appointments, mitigating fears by explaining screenings and procedures, arranging for transportation when necessary, and connecting women to support services.
She also does follow-up calls or letter to all women who receive services at Rush’s Breast Imaging Center, contacting approximately 5,000 women during the course of the year. She is tracking the weekly no-show rate, calling those who don’t keep appointments and compassionately communicating the importance of screening.
“As an advocate I help women come in for mammograms and return for biopsies by helping them overcome powerful, potentially life-threatening barriers to mammograms, whether it is fear, finances, lack of knowledge, time or transportation,” said Shrestha. “Sometimes women just need a simple reminder call with some assurance that it is important to come back and get checked out.”
The project is supported by a $75,000 grant from the Chicagoland Area Affiliate of the Susan G. Komen for the Cure.
Please visit the Rush Breast Imaging Center Web site if you have questions or would like to make an appointment.