Mammography rates decline; Komen KSWMO Hosts #GetBack2Health Town Hall
As a result of the COVID-19 national emergency, breast cancer screenings dropped by 94% according to Epic Health Research Network. Between the months of March and June, 285,000 breast cancer exams were missed. Screening rates are slowly rising, but they are not back to where they were before the pandemic.
In the midst of COVID-19, it is still essential to get the care you need now. Susan G. Komen Kansas & Western Missouri was proud to host a recent Town Hall: #GetBack2Health, featuring panelists who are as committed to providing a safe environment as they are passionate about wellness, prevention, and risk reduction!
CEO Erica Terry moderated the panel of Breast Imaging & Oncology leaders from our region: Kamran Ali, MD, President of Wichita Radiological Group, PA, Amy Patel, MD Breast Radiologist at Liberty Hospital, and Ryan Hallenbeck, Regional Vice President of Cancer Services HCA MidAmerica Division Sarah Cannon.
The panelists helped focus the conversation on why it is so important to continue to make your health a priority within these unprecedented times. The COVID-19 pandemic has presented the world with several challenges, but there are still ways to get back into your health routine. All three panelists have increased safety measures and have made it a priority as they continue their practices. Some procedures implemented have been screenings upon entry to the facility, the requirement of the use of masks, and making sure everything is cleaned often.
These practices have had to play catch up to make up for the time lost during the state wide shutdown. Kamran, Patel, and Hallenbeck’s teams are doing everything they can to accommodate their patients as much as possible. Hours have been extended and they are utilizing their technologists to reach out to their patients and schedule them for a screening.
The biggest challenge? People still do not feel comfortable to see their healthcare teams & imaging centers, so screening rates are still lagging.
Patel says “It’s so important for people to know the earlier we can detect the problem, the easier it is to treat.” All of the panelists underscored that it is safe to come get your annual mammogram and that they want to do whatever they can for patients to feel comfortable again.
“Wearing your mask and social distancing, that’s on all of us to play our part.” says Hallenbeck.
Another conversation focus during the Town Hall was the health disparities that lie within our communities. The panelists are each doing their part to address these issues. Patel says “We are realizing with the pandemic, the health disparities are far worse than we could have imagined. We need to make an effort in our region to reach underserved populations. We need to come up with a game plan to reach people. We have a lot of work to do.”
This is true. Promoting access to care for everyone is a task that involves a team effort. Hallenbeck and The Sarah Cannon team recently developed a 1-800 number to assist people in finding insurance (833-541-5757).
“We need to make an effort in our region to reach under-served populations. We need to come up with a game plan to reach people. We have a lot of work to do.” says Patel.
Kamran, Patel, and Hallenbeck have had to become innovative within their clinical practice and community outreach. It is so important for women to #Get Back2Health and be proactive within the moment. Communication has been essential during this pandemic. Getting out into the community and understanding what patients are needing and how they are feeling has been especially beneficial.
One of the best things you can do right now? Talk to your healthcare provider About Your Risk, Schedule your mammogram and make sure you are on track! We all have a part to play in the work that has to be done, and with the work of Kamran, Patel, Hallenbeck, and others working on the frontlines, we can progressively #GetBack2Health.
Did you miss the #GetBack2Health Town Hall? Good News! No more FOMO (fear of missing out). Click Here to catch the replay!
By Kendall Lanier
Kendall is the Digital Impact & Communications Intern for Susan G. Komen Kansas & Western Missouri. She is a sophomore journalism major at Howard University. Her role for Komen KSWMO includes producing and managing social media content, writing press releases and blogs, and providing support for other engagement proposals. Connect with Kendall on Linkedin. Follow her blog, The Need To Know.