Women know that mammograms are a powerful tool in the fight against breast cancer. But many wonder if they should delay their regular screening out of COVID-19 safety concerns.
As a heath care provider, Wexford dentist Karen Smith Saundry, DMD, was determined not to skip this important cancer screening. “I had no doubt that Magee-Womens Imaging in Cranberry would be following every safety guideline for their patients and staff,” she says.
Karen and her brother operate busy dental practices in Wexford and their hometown of Aliquippa. When both locations temporarily closed due to COVID-19, Karen began researching and planning safety protocols for their reopening. “I learned what’s essential to protect our patients and staff,” she says. She also decided to schedule a mammogram at Magee-Womens Imaging at UPMC Passavant–Cranberry the first week of May.
UPMC follows strict safety guidelines issued by state and county health departments to protect against spreading the virus — plus more of its own. “It’s very safe to come to UPMC for a mammogram” says Kimberly Harnist, MD, a board-certified radiologist specializing in breast imaging for UPMC Magee-Womens Imaging. “We know women are concerned, so we are following strict safety protocols — from screening everyone for COVID-19 prior to entering any of our facilities, sanitizing our imaging equipment, wearing protective equipment, as well as utilizing remote registration and social distancing in our waiting rooms.”
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Those standards put Karen at ease. “The staff explained the exact protocol to me so I knew what to expect,” she explains. “I felt comfortable and cared for throughout my screening. UPMC Passavant is doing everything to keep people safe.”
A normal mammogram today doesn’t mean you can forego future screenings. “Women who have postponed their annual mammogram due to COVID 19 are encouraged to schedule an appointment. Early detection allows us to provide the best treatment and follow up care,” says Dr. Harnist. “Screening mammography is a covered benefit from insurers and there are resources available for women who do not have coverage.”
As a health care provider, Karen knows that many people are avoiding routine health care visits and important screenings because they’re afraid of getting COVID-19. That’s why she turned to social media, sharing every detail of her experience on Facebook. “Putting off a mammogram — when time can be of the essence — just didn’t make sense to me,” says Karen. “I want people to know mammograms save lives and that they’re in good hands.”
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For more information or to schedule an appointment with UPMC Magee-Womens Imaging, please call: 412-641-4700 or 1-800-649-4077.
If you are over 40 years old, a prescription is not required for a screening mammography.
For more than a century, UPMC Magee-Womens Hospital has provided high-quality medical care to women at all stages of life. UPMC Magee is long renowned for its services to women and babies, but also offers a wide range of care to men as well. Nearly 10,000 babies are born each year at Magee, and the hospital’s NICU is one of the largest in the country. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services recognizes Magee as a National Center of Excellence in Women’s Health, and the Magee-Womens Research Institute is the largest research institute in the U.S. devoted exclusively to women’s health and reproductive biology.