Jessie Lund (left), manager of the radiology department at St. Vincent Clay Hospital, peruses a mammography brochure with Melissa Jones, manager of the hospital's emergency room. Jones is wearing one of the pink robes provided to all patients who receive mammograms at the facility.
Getting a mammogram can be a distinctly uncomfortable experience, but the radiology staff at St. Vincent Clay Hospital has taken an important step to make the process a little easier.
Starting this month, patients who undergo the procedure at the hospital will be given a pink bathrobe to wear over their hospital gown. The robes provide better coverage and warmth than a standard hospital gown, and are intended to make the overall experience more comfortable for the patient.
"They're very pretty," said Andrea Baysinger, Clinical and Community Education Coordinator at St. Vincent Clay. "They add a little feminine touch."
The robe initiative was spearheaded by Paulette Gaskill, a case manager at St. Vincent Clay.
"I read about it in a newsletter from one of our other facilities and thought it would be a neat idea," she said.
October is the American Cancer Society's (ACS) National Breast Cancer Awareness Month, and Baysinger said she hopes the robes will encourage area women to think proactively about the threat of breast cancer.
The ACS advises that women over 40 have a mammogram every year, but systematic monitoring of the health of breast tissue should begin at a much younger age. According to ACS guidelines, women over the age of 20 should conduct a monthly self-examination and receive a "clinical breast exam," a more thorough examination conducted by a physician, every three years.
"It doesn't just start at an older age," said Melissa Jones, emergency room manager at St. Vincent Clay. "It's best to get a screening at a young age."
Jones, a breast cancer survivor who has been cancer free for five years, said some women decide they don't need a mammogram because there is no history of the illness in their family. She stressed that this logic can be deadly.
"Only three to five percent of all cancers are hereditary. The rest are environmental," she said. "That's not a good reason not to get one."
The robes are one of several measures the hospital has taken to provide a more comfortable mammogram experience for their patients.
"We use mammo-pads to help with the compression," said Jessie Lund, department manager of radiology at the hospital. "A lot of places don't use them."
Lund will also teach patients to conduct effective self-examinations at home and implement an examination schedule in accordance with ACS guidelines.