BAM! POW! WHAM! Batman has begun a new crusade - helping to spread the word that early detection is the best “superpower” in the fight against breast cancer. The Batmobile, equipped with gleaming pink strobe lights, zoomed up to Horizon BCBSNJ in Newark on September 28 to help Horizon BCBSNJ, UMDNJ-The University Hospital and Susan G. Komen for the Cure North Jersey kick off National Breast Cancer Awareness Month in October.
Parked adjacent to the Batmobile was UMDNJ-The University Hospital’s Mammography in Motion digital mobile mammography van. Horizon BCBSNJ had brought the mammography van on site for the day to emphasize the importance of early detection and provide easy access to screening mammograms for its employees. Komen North Jersey, through its Community Grants Program, helps fund the mobile unit, which utilizes a state-of-the-art Hologic Selenia Digital Mammography Machine.Since its launch in 2009, the Mammography in Motion van has performed over 5,000 mammograms at more than 25 locations in Northern NJ.
According to Jennifer Griola, Executive Director of the Komen North Jersey Affiliate, for many women, even those who know and understand the importance of early detection, work and family responsibilities can often make finding the time to get a mammogram challenging.
“That’s why stepping up to the plate and providing easy and convenient on-site access for their female employees during the work day turns companies like Horizon BCBSNJ into “Superheroes,” says Griola. “They are not only setting a great example, they are potentially saving lives—the lives of Horizon employees. And corporate visits like these help fund the van, which helps us get the van out to provide as many screening mammograms as possible to the women who need us most - the underserved and uninsured women in our nine counties. We’re hoping that more companies will follow Horizon’s lead.”
With workloads expanding and increasingly fast-paced lifestyles, scheduling and keeping doctors’ visits can be difficult. This is especially true for women, and particularly, working women. Often the “stewards” of their families’ health, women tend to ensure that their loved ones make regular visits to the doctor - sometimes, though, at the expense of their own healthcare needs.
With breast cancer, regular screening to detect the disease early and fight it is still considered the best defense. But according to study results presented at the 2010 San Antonio Breast Cancer Symposium, fewer than 50 percent of insured women over 40 are getting a recommended annual mammogram—despite the fact that they have the insurance to do so.
“Horizon is going the extra mile to ensure that our employees have every opportunity to receive a mammogram,” said Lori Leotta, Horizon BCBSNJ Director of Clinical Initiatives and Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW). “We recognize that it is far easier for a working woman to let a screening opportunity pass by than to juggle the time, travel and effort necessary to keep an appointment. Thanks to UMDNJ- The University Hospital and Komen North Jersey, we are able to bring a mammogram just steps away from the office and to make it possible for our employees to complete the screening during a break time.”
Many Horizon BCBSNJ/Newark employees took advantage of the opportunity. Celines Guerrero, a 35-year old Pharmacy Benefits Specialist at the company, was there to have her first mammogram, her baseline.
“It is so great that our company is providing this benefit to help us do what we need to do,” said Guerrero. “Getting a mammogram, early detection - these are things that every woman needs to know. I have a sister-in-law who is 41 years old with Stage IV breast cancer, so I wanted to have a baseline now. I was really happy that I could do it right here at Horizon.”
Another employee, Hazel Dula, a Horizon BCBSNJ Quality Auditor, said she’s super conscientious about getting a screening mammogram every year.
Asked how she felt about Horizon bringing the Mobile Mammography Unit on site, she said, “Checking every year to see whether or not you have breast cancer can save your life. And when the opportunity to get a mammogram is in your face like this, it’s really hard to say ‘no.’ “