Mammovan services to focus on those with limited access to medical testing
FERNLEY – Residents Thelma O’Hanen and Ruth Winslett were curious to see Nevada’s new Mammovan on its maiden journey Wednesday.
O’Hanen, who has been told to have a mammogram every six months, was delighted at the thought of not having to leave town for the X-ray.
“If I don’t have to drive to Sparks to have this done, I won’t,” said O’Hanen.
O’Hanen had a lumpectomy a few years ago and her doctor wants the X-ray done twice a year for precautionary measures.
Shirley Fehr, a registered nurse and project coordinator, did recommend O’Hanen stay with her physician for the X-rays, because her physician is familiar with her medical history. But once in a while, if it’s more convenient to use the van, then use it, Fehr said.
The best news for O’Hanen, who is covered under an HMO, Senior Dimensions, was that all medical plans are accepted by the rural health centers, and the receptionist will help with the paperwork.
If a person has no insurance, it’s OK. The program is designed to provide medical testing where needed, whether the patient can afford it or not.
“If they don’t have insurance, but make too much money for say, Medicaid, we will base payment on a sliding scale,” said Kenneth McBain, executive director of Nevada Rural Health Centers Inc. “We want to make it as easy as possible for them.”
Fehr said a specific schedule will be made available when the van returns to Northern Nevada in June. The frequency of the visits to any particular area will be based on need.
“Many people will not go to the doctor,” said former Congressman John Ensign, who made the tour with Nevada first lady Dema Guinn.
“And there are lots of (medically) under served areas in Nevada. By taking the service to the people, into their community, the more convenient we can make it for these people to get the attention they need. Prevention is the best thing we can do for the people.”
A doctor’s referral is not necessary for any of the testing. The patient should provide the name of a physician so the test results can be forwarded.
“If they do not have one of their own, we will make a recommendation to them to see one of our physicians, in their area,” said McBain.
Services include mammograms, Pap smears, screening tests for diabetes, prostate cancer, hypertension, colo-rectal cancer, cholesterol and lipid testing, bone density and well-child visits.
The van is also wheel chair accessible, equipped with a lift.
The van has an exam room where the Pap smears and other exams can be completed. At the rear of the van is the mammography room, where a certified mammography technologist takes the X-ray. The film is then sent to a licensed radiologist to be read.
All exams and diagnostic testing is performed by a physician assistant or a nurse practitioner. The receptionist will help with appointments, referrals and billing.