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October 29, 2013

Traveling lifesaver

GREENVILLE — The formal name is The Tubby Adkisson Mobile Mammography Coach.

It was named to honor the late Tubby Adkisson, the beloved civic leader who devoted much of her life to helping others.

The coach’s nickname, however, might well be The Traveling Lifesaver to the more than 50 percent of women in the county who have never had a mammogram.

Dedicated Sept. 16, the coach has actually been on the road since May, traveling throughout Hunt County and the surrounding area, providing mammogram screenings for early detection of cancer.

“In that time we’ve already had 360 screenings, and 25 of those women needed follow-ups,” said Alicia Wittkopf, director of the Hunt Regional Healthcare Foundation. In addition to Greenville, the mammography coach has already visited Sulphur Springs, Rockwall, Royse City, Bonham, Cooper, Kaufman, Campbell, Leonard, Quinlan, Commerce and Princeton.

The coach is here and operational because the foundation’s board of directors wanted to do something for the community, Wittkopf explained.

“The foundation board has helped fund projects for the hospital, but the members wanted to do something to reach the community at large,” she said. Proposals came from a number of people, but it was the suggestion for a mobile mammography coach, put forward by Judy Quan, the hospital’s nurse navigator, that “resonated with the board,” Wittkopf added.

The coach’s price was a half-million dollars, and the foundation board decided to lead the charge to raise the money. They combined proceeds from the annual gala, funds from Bras for the Cause, plus donation pledges from Hunt Regional Healthcare employees through payroll deductions.

Two women operate the coach. Leah Fouse drives the vehicle and helps with registrations, and Amy Goodin, is a technician who conducts the actual mammograms. The screenings are transferred electronically to a radiologist at the hospital for reading. Women with a questionable screening result will get a follow-up phone call and letters, and those whose screenings are OK are notified by letter.

Preregistration is required for a screening; call 903-408-5010 for an individual appointment. During registration, insurance information will be taken and authorization for the screening obtained.

All insurances are accepted for the mobile mammography coach as well as Medicare and Medicaid. If a woman has no insurance, she may call Judy Quan, 903-408-5720, for help with payment resources. Those women who do not have insurance and whose income level does not qualify them for a free screening, can get a $100 cash screening.

A minimum number of 12 scheduled appointments is necessary for the mobile coach to visit a specific site. To have the coach visit a particular church, school or workplace for screenings, call the hospital, 903-408-5010.

“It seems like no one can go without being touched by cancer in the family or in friends,” said Wittkopf. “Early detection is the key, and there are some resources for all women of Hunt County.

“We need to keep our mothers, sisters, aunts and friends healthy,” she said. “Women are the caretakers of the community.”

The mobile mammography coach will be at PCA Quinlan today and at Lone Oak ISD on Wednesday. Next week’s schedule includes Leonard Pharmacy, Nov. 5; Hunt Regional Community Hospital in Commerce, Nov. 6, and the GISD Administration building, Nov. 8.

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