Salt Lake City, UT -- (ReleaseWire) -- 06/18/2020 --During the initial stages of the COVID-19 pandemic, many non-urgent outpatient surgeries and imaging exams, such as screening mammograms, were postponed by health systems such as Intermountain Healthcare as they paused to assess the risk of providing care with the threat of contracting the coronavirus. During that time, new restrictions were put in place by Intermountain and others to ensure patient and caregiver safety.
As the state of Utah has transitioned to Yellow, both Intermountain physicians and caregivers felt it was safe to resume screening, but with new social distancing and other safety measures in place.
"Even though we took a break during the pandemic, breast cancer didn't," said Brett Parkinson, MD, medical director of Intermountain Healthcare's Breast Care Center. "So, we need to take care of those women who may have missed their annual exam, while also serving patients whose annual mammograms are coming due."
Intermountain Caregivers have taken specific steps to maintain social distancing by limiting the number of patients and staff in its facilities. This includes fewer patients in the waiting rooms and a limited number of appointments in a given time frame. To ensure there are enough screening appointments to meet demand, facilities will expand and adopt flexible hours as needed, so that women can be screened in a timely fashion. In addition, caregivers are also taking extra precautions to sanitize rooms and imaging equipment in between every visit. All physicians and technical staff wears masks, and patients are also given a mask at the door.
Intermountain's two mobile mammogram units are also back in operation, serving areas that may not have convenient access to imaging.
Dr. Parkinson reminds women that an annual mammogram is the most effective way of detecting breast cancer in its earliest, most treatable stage. "The sooner cancers are discovered and treated, the better the outcomes tend to be."
Women in in the United States currently have a one in eight chance of being diagnosed with breast cancer. It is the second leading cause of cancer related deaths in U.S. women. However, Utah's rate of women who undergo mammogram screening annually is one of the lowest in the nation.
To schedule a mammogram in Utah, call 801-507-7840, or visit intermountainhealthcare.org/mammogram.
Intermountain Healthcare is a not-for-profit system of 24 hospitals, 215 clinics, a Medical Group with 2,500 employed physicians and advanced practice clinicians, a health insurance company called SelectHealth, and other health services in Idaho, Utah, and Nevada. Intermountain is widely recognized as a leader in transforming healthcare by using evidence-based best practices to consistently deliver high-quality outcomes and sustainable costs. For more information, see intermountainhealthcare.org.