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Stroger Hospital cuts back on preventive mammograms.

Wednesday, August 01, 2007
ABC 7 Chicago
by Leah Hope

Stroger Hospital is no longer providing routine mammogram screenings to its patients.
Doctors agree that early detection is the best way to fight breast cancer. That has
some fearing that limiting mammograms at Stroger Hospital will cause some cases to go
undetected in some patients.

The growing awareness of early detection leads to fewer late-stage breast cancers. Part
of a regular breast exam includes an annual mammogram for women over 40. For low-income
Cook County residents, getting a mammogram screening can be difficult, especially at
Stroger Hospital.

Stroger Hospital serves as a level one trauma center and for some low income families
it is also their source of healthcare. But patients coming in for breast cancer exams
are told they will have to go elsewhere for their mammograms.

ABC7 has learned that healthcare providers at the hospital have been told since January
in an internal message "there is no capacity to provide screening mammograms at Cook
County - Stroger campus at this time." Instead patients are to be sent to other
facilities to get their mammograms, but some say it isn't working.

"It looks good on paper. It's not quite working. I have to deal with sad, disturbed,
angry patients who are not going to come back," said a healthcare worker at Stroger,
who does not want to be identified. She says some patients who already face financial
challenges and language barriers are not getting the mammograms at all.

"They aren't getting contacted and they are not accessing the private hospital, and
they are kind of lost," the Stroger worker said.

This worker who has been at Stroger for over a decade fears what the lack of mammograms
screening will mean later.

"The consequence will be in a few years the amount of advanced breast cancer will show
up," the worker said.

Cook County Board President Todd Stroger says the county is bearing too much
responsibility for the uninsured and needed to take this step.

"Our hospital tries to make sure if we can't see people immediately, that we can
connect them with hospitals that do, so when the list gets too long, we try to put
something together where we'll talk to the other hospitals and see who they will take,"
said Stroger.

Stroger, who himself was had prostate cancer detected early, says other facilities
should step up to help patients in need of preventive care.

"Unfortunately, we can't carry the full load for everyone who can't pay, so some of the
other hospitals will have to take some of that," Stroger said.

A backlog off mammograms at Stroger led to this outsourcing of screening mammograms,
ABC7 was told.

Stroger Hospital is doing mammograms if there is a lump detected, something suspicious
and/or a family history of breast cancer.

A Stroger spokesman says part of the $100 million they have requested from the state
would go toward returning screening mammograms at the hospital.



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