Mobile mammography coming to Washington

Published 6:17 pm Tuesday, March 1, 2016

North Carolina has one of the highest rates of breast cancer compared to other states, according to data from the National Cancer Institute, but Belk is helping to combat this all over the country, including in Washington.

On March 8, a mobile mammography center from Charlotte Radiology will roll up to Belk at Washington Square Mall, and operate from 9:30 a.m. to 7 p.m.

Women over the age of 40 who haven’t had a mammogram in the last 12 months, have no breast concerns and have a primary-care physician are eligible to take advantage of the 39-foot, state-of-the-art center and receive a free mammogram screening, according to a press release.

Cathleen Bates, assistant director of outpatient operation and development at Charlotte Radiology, said Belk was looking for other ways to give back in 2013, which is when the business approached Charlotte Radiology about using a mobile mammography center. Belk’s corporate headquarters is located in Charlotte.

The two worked out an agreement, and have since kept the center running every year as part of BelkGives on the Go, logging more than 100,000 miles so far, according to Bates.

She said the idea is to create a community event in which women can have a screening without worrying about time constraints, insurance or money. Belk is covering all of the costs, and insurance is not a requirement, but women are encouraged to set up an appointment first, Bates said.

The mobile center will only provide mammography screenings, however, and any further diagnoses would take place through a woman’s physician, who receives the screening results.

“The whole goal here was to not have any obstacle,” Bates said. “It’s more of a no-excuse educational program.”

According to the press release, more than 7,400 mammograms have been performed throughout the southeastern United States and have resulted in 30 cancer diagnoses, although Bates estimates the number is closer to 40.

“Early detection is key,” Bates said. “We do work with a lot of providers in the area, local health departments, foundations.”

It’s all in an effort to fight the statistics and catch breast cancer before it is too late. Bates said she knows some women who are now survivors because abnormalities were detected at one of the mobile centers.

“Belk’s $6 million investment in this program marks the retailer’s deep commitment to women’s health issues and breast cancer education and is the company’s single largest charitable contribution to date,” the release stated. “Belk is the only retailer of its kind to form a partnership alongside community and health organizations by extending breast cancer screening and increasing breast cancer awareness through its own operation.”

Women are also being offered a complimentary bra fitting at Belk in Washington after undergoing a mammogram.

“It’s more of an uplifting community event,” Bates said. “That’s why they wanted to make this giving more intimate.”

The mobile mammography center will be at Belk in Washington Square Mall on Tuesday, March 8 from 9:30 a.m. to 7 p.m. To set up an appointment, call 855-655- 2662.