The Mammovan, run by non-profit Nevada Health Centers, was parked in front of John Ascuaga’s Nugget on Monday and will be in Reno on Wednesday and back in Sparks on Thursday. Inside, veteran radiology technologist Vicki Cicotti was waiting to perform screenings on women age 40 and older who came to have the recommended procedure to check for cancer.
“There have been several women diagnosed with breast cancer because of the services we’re able to give,” said Cicotti, who has been in radiology for 30 years. “They’ve been able to obtain a mammogram they probably would not have done if they had to pay for it.”
The services provided on the Mammovan come at no cost to patients who are at or below 200 percent of the federal poverty line, said Blanca Ayala, community outreach coordinator for Nevada Health Centers, based in Carson City. Above that percent, patients pay $150 or can use their insurance. Established with the help of former Nevada first lady Dema Guinn in 2000, the Mammovan travels all around the state providing the screening service to women and men.
“It was set up primarily so we could reach rural areas in Nevada and provide mammogram services for the non-insured and under-insured,” Cicotti said.
Another advantage of the Mammovan is that it can visit large businesses, such as casinos, and give their female employees a convenient place to get the screening without taking large chunks of time out of their work day. Cicotti said the unit often visits Caesar’s facilities in Tahoe and Las Vegas, in addition to the Nugget in Sparks. The main focus, however, is rural areas in the far reaches of the state.
Patients can either make an appointment or walk in and have the exam done in about 30 minutes. Results take seven to 10 days as they must be read by a technician in Las Vegas, Cicotti said.
The mobile unit has served a total of 33,000 women, Ayala said, for an average of 3,500 a year. It has resulted in 120 cancer diagnoses, with the most coming in 2010 with 18. About 60 to 70 percent of the patients are uninsured and minority populations are targeted since they are the most at-risk for advanced cancer because of language barriers, lack of access to health care and other factors, Ayala said.
The Mammovan will be at the Safeway grocery store at 5150 Mae Anne Ave. in Reno on Wednesday and at the Smith’s Food & Drug Store at 1255 Baring Blvd. in Sparks on Thursday. Hours are 7:45 a.m. to 3:15 p.m. Walk-ins are welcome but appointments are recommended by calling 877-581-6266. Patients must be 40 years of age or older (younger only with a doctor’s referral).