Mammovan open house draws small crowd
First Lady Dema Guinn greeted more than 200 people at the Governor’s Mansion on Wednesday morning as the Rural Health Centers project rolled out Nevada’s first Mammovan.
She thanked former Congressman John Ensign, who pushed through federal funding for the van before his term of office ended a year ago.
And she made it clear she intends to raise money to provide treatment for cases of cancer discovered by medical professionals who operate the van.
Ensign, who is now running for U.S. Senate, said he hopes it will be the first of several mobile clinics that can travel the state providing health care in rural areas as well as reaching under-served populations in the Reno and Las Vegas urban areas.
U.S. Rep. Jim Gibbons, R-Nev., said it will provide critically needed diagnosis of problems such as breast cancer in areas that rapidly are losing access to health care.
He credited Ensign for winning federal funding that paid the bulk of the price of buying and fitting out the $350,000 van.
The van, which is 40-feet long and pulled by a semi-tractor, will spend February through June in Clark County, then head to rural and Northern Nevada to provide breast cancer screening, PAP smears and other health services needed by women.
In addition, the E.L. Weigland Foundation has donated and is paying to install bone density screening equipment costing more than $17,000 that makes possible early detection of osteoporosis.
Shirley Fehr of Nevada Rural Health Centers, RN and project coordinator, said it will provide other services as well – including screening men for prostate cancer.
“We need about a half-dozen of these mobile health vans,” said Gibbons.
Ensign said he was proud to help get the van in operation but that efforts are now under way to provide follow-up care.
“The van is great, but what happens if they diagnose some one with breast cancer? We can’t leave them without treatment,” said Ensign.
He said that’s where Guinn is taking the lead, heading up the Breast Cancer Committee to raise money for treatment of those who don’t have the ability to pay for treatment.
Guinn said the committee has set aside $45,000 already and plans to raise about $300,000 more for treatment. Ensign said there is enough money in the coffers to fund all operations for about 18 months. By then, he hopes the van will be self-supporting.
“We even have space available for corporate sponsorship if anyone is interested.”