Weems Memorial To Offer Digital Mammography Services
Weems Memorial Hospital will soon offer digital mammography services thanks to a $258,500 USDA Rural Development Health Care grant and a matching donation of $137,250 from Franklin Needs Inc, a local nonprofit organization that helps fund breast cancer support services for Franklin County residents.
The recent USDA Rural Health Care funding, combined with the donation from Franklin Needs, will be used to purchase advanced digital radiology equipment for Weems Memorial Hospital. Officials say the advanced digital mammogram equipment will produce a sharper, three-dimensional images which can increase early detection and increase patient survival rates.
“This will create access to care for many residents in our area who have not had access to healthcare, said Weems CEO David Walker. “Thanks to the partnership of Franklin Needs, we will be able to provide a much-needed service that will save lives,” he said.
Walker and Weems radiology staff, along with the Franklin County Commissioners, were presented the Franklin Needs check for $137,250 during the Commission’s meeting on Tuesday, Oct. 18. Jessica Sparks, president of the Franklin Needs organization, along with board members Lauren Luberto, Roxanne Christie and Dayle Flint were on hand to make the ceremonial check presentation.
For the past 10 years, the Franklin Needs nonprofit organization has hosted the annual Pink Out event on St. George Island that has raised money help fund mammograms and breast cancer support services for Franklin County residents. President Sparks said that in addition to the donation for the mammography equipment this year, the group has committed to help cover ongoing cost associated with the equipment and services. “We’re not a big community but when we come together, we do big things,” she said.
Weems CEO Walker said the hospital plans to install the mammography equipment in the main hospital facility in Apalachicola in an area of the hospital that is currently being renovated to house the equipment. The Weems mammography services are expected to be available by years’ end.
The $258,500 USDA grant also provided funding to relocate computerized tomography (CT) scan machine from a mobile unit into a permanent location within the hospital. A separate $158,900 USDA grant will fund the purchase of five new stretchers and an electronic health record (EHR) system.
“The sooner you discover breast cancer, the better your odds are for full recovery,” said Dr. Patrick Conrad, Weems Emergency Room Director. “Early detection is key and while monthly self-exams are important, a mammogram can pick up tumors that the most careful self-exam will miss. If you are over 35, or if women in your family have had breast cancer, talk to your primary care provider today about whether you should have a mammogram. The sooner you look for it, the sooner you can cure it,” said Dr. Conrad.