OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Breast Care for Washington co-founder Dr. Regina Hampton, Md. explains the 3D mammography to Blanca Pena during her consultation.

Residents of Ward 8 remain among the most underserved in the Washington metropolitan area.  Particularly among minority women, accessing life-saving specialized services, such as mammograms, requires navigating both geographical and cultural barriers.  To answer the call for quality and accessible health care, Breast Care for Washington launched 3D mammography services at Conway Health and Resource Center, in the heart of Southeast.

The free screening event, in partnership with local nonprofit Nueva Vida, introduced the breakthrough technology of 3D imaging to patients whose scans would allow physicians to examine breast tissue layer by layer.  The Genius 3D Mammography locates 41 percent more invasive or lethal cancers than traditional mammograms, and reduces the number of women called back for unnecessary screenings due to false alarms by up 40 percent.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Technological breakthroughs with 3D imaging allow physicians to examine breast tissue one layer at a time to make more accurate and definitive diagnoses.

Founded by Beth Beck and Dr. Regina Hampton, Breast Cancer for Washington provides the only 3D mammography service east of the river. “Being involved in the ‘breast world’ we were both tired of saying the same old thing about disparities in Wards 7 and 8 and in Prince Georges County.  We decided to take action.  So, we decided to bring 3D mammography to Ward 8,” said Hampton, the Centers’ medical director.  “There is only one mammography provider here in Ward 8 and there is not one in Ward 7.  To bring this level of quality – because I believe these women deserve high quality service – we partnered with Hologic, who donated the machine. So, we have the only 3D mammography east of the river.”

For Hampton, reaching the women living in Ward 7, Ward 8, and Prince Georges County is critical. Women in this area have some of the highest rates of breast cancer mortality in the country.

“It’s not just about putting an imaging machine in the community and expecting women to show up.  There is a lot of work to do around combating myths that we are undertaking.  We want to develop relationships so that the women feel comfortable and safe in coming here for their services and that we really do care.  I don’t think you can go to any other mammography center and see a place set aside for kids because it is hard to get child care, so we want them to bring the kids on in as well, so long as they get the services they need,” Hampton said.

Fernando Ascencio, executive director of Nueva Vida, echoed Hampton’s sentiments, saying Breast Care for Washington’s community outreach promotes access to high-quality health care services irrespective of the ability to pay and other barriers.

“D.C. is the richest of the rich and the poorest of the poor so it becomes a huge experiment in how to provide quality care so that everyone is receiving the same everywhere.  Both Nueva Vida and Breast Care for Washington have identified levels of disparity.  With we focus on specifically Latina women and the barriers are not just financial, so giving everyone health insurance is not going to fix it,” Ascencio said.

Sheila Perritt, one of the first Southwest residents to have a mammogram at the Center, said she was overwhelmed by the outpouring of support and the time taken by the staff to explain.

“My sister passed recently from breast cancer.  It was like she found out the diagnosis one month and passed away the next.  If early detection is the key, then we owe it to ourselves to come here and get checked. Some people are afraid, but there are no excuses for not living the very best that you can,” Perritt said.