Citizens Bank teamed with Ascension Saint Thomas last week to host its Mobile Mammogram Unit in the bank’s parking lot as part of Breast Cancer Awareness Month.

The mobile bus typically visits twice per year but was limited to an October stop because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Women can obtain a mammogram without having to go out of town during the mobile unit’s visit to Hartsville and other cities across Middle Tennessee.

Making it easier for women to obtain mammograms and early screenings for breast cancer is a topic dear to the hearts of some Citizens Bank employees who have personally fought and beaten the disease.

“We’ve been having this here for several years,” said bank employee Tracy Belcher. “We always have a great turnout, and so many people now, this is where they get their mammogram. They count on it being here.”

Belcher cited the convenience of not having to go out of town for testing, something that can be important in a rural community like Hartsville.

“They’d rather come here than sit in an imaging center, or drive to Nashville,” added Angie White.

Belcher added that a number of Citizens Bank employees take part in the annual testing and that some have found indications of breast cancer as a result.

“This is a big day for us that we really get behind, because it’s close to our hearts,” she said. “We really get excited about pushing everybody to get their testing done because we’ve been there and done that.”

“We just feel like this is a great service for the community,” added Citizens Bank employee Dee Ann Biggers.

Saint Thomas’ personnel with the mammogram unit noted the importance of regular screenings and how the mobility made things easier for patients. The bus visits 16 Middle Tennessee counties and is a joint venture between Saint Thomas and the Susan G. Komen Greater Nashville chapter, according to ourmissioninmotion.com.

Nurse Lori Ward said the MMU regularly sees around 25 to 30 patients during each of its stops in Hartsville. On Friday the MMU was so busy that appointments had to be made rather than just taking walk-in customers, she said.

“This is our ninth year coming to Hartsville,” Ward said. “Women know that we’re coming and this is their one opportunity to get their mammogram without going out of town. It’s definitely been a busy day for us.”

Saint Thomas is currently working on adding a second mobile unit at an estimated cost of $1.6 million. Having a second mobile unit available will make it even easier for women in suburban or rural areas to get screened and potentially detect breast cancer earlier.

“We anticipate getting the second bus in May 2021 and will offer 3-D screening,” Ward said. “It’s better than what we now have and we’re super excited about that.”

The first unit will be upgraded and will also have the new 3-D equipment, Ward said.

“It’s more sensitive and does detect it earlier,” she said. “3-D means less callbacks for false negatives. You can see cysts that you might not see.”

“It just shows the breast in different ways and you can see more in depth,” added technician Kelly Large.

Reach Chris Gregory at 615-450-5756 or cgregory@hartsvillevidette.com.

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