By LIBBY CLUETT
Palo Pinto General Hospital took a big step forward in detection of breast cancer, when, in late August, the hospital became a partner with the Moncrief Cancer Institute. Through the institute and a federal grant, PPGH now provides imaging for uninsured and under-insured citizens.
This isn’t the first leap PPGH has taken. In 2011, with the $205,000 purchase of a Hologic Selenia digital mammography machine, the hospital leapt forward, providing a clearer picture on breast cancer.
Along with the new machine PPGH contracted with Dr. Nanette Evans – radiologist at Texas Health Harris Methodist Hospital Stephenville – for diagnostic radiology services.
Since its recent implementation of the Moncrief Institute grant, PPGH has been able to expand breast cancer screening to more citizens.
According to PPGH Financial Case Manager Caye Mauney the hospital has averaged 25 grant-funded mammograms each month.
She said a digital mammogram, out of pocket, runs at least $75 – with PPGH’s October special pricing.
Mauney said the Moncrief Institute program has been extended and will be funded another year.
The process for a prospective uninsured or under-insured patient begins with a screening through the Moncrief Institute, “to determine if they are income-eligible,” she said, adding that patients can call 1-800-405-7739 Moncrief or call 940-328-6578 to set up a screening.
“It’s an ongoing program. [PPGH does mammograms for this program] on Tuesdays on a weekly basis,” Mauney said.
One reason PPGH can do the imaging in-house and doesn’t need a mobile Moncrief Institute unit brought to Mineral Wells, is because “our machine is digital and we are able to do the same thing they are able to do,” Mauney explained.
PPGH can conduct the breast exam and write the mammogram order – or it can come from the patient’s physician – and then conduct the digital imaging and reading, in house.
“The goal is to keep everything here, in our county, and keep that patient here, in her home town, so that [she is] more comfortable,” said Mauney.
“The earlier we can catch it, it’s better for everyone, on every front – from getting treatment to the costs involved,” she said.
Mauney noted that the Moncrief Institute grant helps alleviate all of the previous barriers area residents might have had to getting a mammogram.
“There is no excuse anymore,” she added.
In August, when PPGH first initiated the federally funded grant partnership with the Moncrief Cancer Institute, Mauney told the Index the institute was trying to expand its breast cancer screening program to other counties as well, but PPGH was the first rural hospital to offer free mammograms in North Texas under its grant program.
“They are extending [the grant] out to 14 counties because they had such success in the Metroplex,” she said.