Outreach delivers screening and hope to communities in need
More than 3,500 local women who are low income and uninsured have received free mammograms through an MD Anderson community outreach initiative.
Project VALET — an acronym for Providing Valuable Area Life-Saving Exams in Town — brings MD Anderson’s mobile mammography van to nine community clinics in Harris and Fort Bend counties.
Several times each week, the van rolls into a clinic parking lot to provide eligible women ages 40 to 69 with this important and lifesaving screening.
Many of those screened have never had a mammogram because they are uninsured, can’t afford it or have no transportation.
“The program overcomes barriers of cost and transportation by bringing high-quality mammography screenings to women in their own familiar communities,” says Diane Benson, associate director of Health Policy and head of the Project VALET program.
Mammography goes mobile to reach low-income women
Project VALET started in 2008 with seed money from the National Breast Cancer Foundation, a Texas-based organization that funds early detection initiatives. In its first year, the project delivered 114 free mammograms. By 2014, that number had increased 10 times over.
“With the high volume of underserved women in our area, there’s a clear need for programs like this,” Benson says.
Before getting a mammogram through Project VALET, women must first attend classes taught by participating clinic staff. The project provides the educational materials. Topics discussed include what to expect during a mammogram and why early detection is important.The goal is to help women feel comfortable and encourage them to come back for screenings each year, Benson explains.
MD Anderson’s mobile van provides screening mammograms, which are routinely administered to detect breast cancer in women who have no apparent symptoms.
Women whose screening mammograms indicate further testing is recommended are referred to a facility that partners with Project VALET to provide more in-depth testing, such as a diagnostic mammogram, ultrasound or both.
Whether a woman is scheduling her first mammogram, educational classes, advanced diagnostic testing or, if needed, treatment services, patient navigators at participating community clinics and MD Anderson are on hand to guide her through the process. And help is available in multiple languages.
Due to increased demand, Project VALET recently purchased a second mammography van that will service four additional clinics in 2015.
Mammography goes mobile to reach low-income women Clinics in Harris County that partner with Project VALET include:
- El Centro de Corazon, 7037 Capitol St.
- Hillendahl Clinic, 1615 Hillendahl Blvd, Suite 100
- La Nueva Casa De Amigos Health Center, 1809 North Main
- Northside Health Center, 8504 Schuller
- Pitner Clinic, 8575 Pitner Rd.
- Sunnyside Health Center, 9314 Cullen
- West Houston Clinic, 19333 Clay Rd.
Participating Fort Bend County clinics are:
- AccessHealth, 400 Austin St., Richmond
- Shifa Clinic, 10415 Synott Rd., Sugar Land