By Laura Keil
BC Cancer’s mobile mammography service will be in a more central location next time it visits after some residents complained it was not accessible to people with disabilities or those without a vehicle.
In response to the Goat’s questions about the van’s location, BC Cancer Communications Officer Andrea Visscher told the Goat the van will be parked outside the Valemount Health Centre next time.The past couple years the van has been parked in the Best Western parking lot on the southern outskirts of town.
Visscher said when picking a location they consider accessibility, parking ease for the screening vehicle, location visibility, feedback from clients and parking for clients.
Mimi Guiltner said she had booked an appointment to get screened a couple years ago but turned around after getting spooked on the highway on her bike, as she doesn’t drive. While there is a way for pedestrians to reach the hotel without going on the highway, at that time she didn’t know.
“I was pedalling and pedalling and pedalling and I was like, ‘Where in the heck is this Best Western?’ … The distance was just way too long and it was getting pretty dangerous.”
She said she went home and phoned them to let them know she couldn’t get there.
For Guiltner, it’s meant she hasn’t been screened since moving to Valemount four years ago.
“I haven’t been going,” she said, adding that she doesn’t like asking for rides from friends. “You don’t want to bother them.”
Guiltner is glad they have picked the clinic now, as she has no trouble reaching it on her bike.
Lewynne Mollejon and Elizabeth MacLean are two other women who don’t drive and agree the Valemount Health Centre is a better location. MacLean said at this time of year roads are often icy and she didn’t feel comfortable walking there.
Mollejon and Guiltner felt the service should have been better advertised too as neither knew the van was coming. The service only comes to Valemount once a year. Mollejon said she wanted to know how long it would be here, how to make an appointment and whether walk-ins were allowed.
“It would have been nice if they had posted something that it was coming,” Guiltner said.
Visscher said they post upcoming visits on the BC Cancer Screening facebook page and find it’s an effective way to reach residents.
“If we are having trouble filling spots, we increase social media ads and have on occasion reached out to local newspapers, radio stations, etc. informing them that the mobile unit will be coming to their town. This was not the case for Valemount, as I’m told all available mammography slots were filled.”
She said women receive a reminder approximately a month before they are due to screen.
“They can then call our provincial call center and find out when the mobile unit will be in their neighborhood and book an appointment. The mobile unit tends to stick to the same schedule each year in order to accommodate the anniversary dates of when women are due to screen.”
For women who missed the local screening, mammographies are also done at the Prince George and Kamloops Hospitals and residents can use the Northern Health Connections health bus to reach them.