CJD donates $3,700 for mammograms

<I>Elane Dickenson/Chieftain</I><BR>Wallowa Memorial Hospital diagnostic imaging department co-manager Missi Hayward, right, explains the operation of the hospital's mammogram to Jessie Kassahn, chairman of the Chief Joseph Days' Tough Enough to Wear Pink campaign.

A $3,700 donation from the Chief Joseph Days' Tough Enough to Wear Pink campaign last week will pay for 17 or 18 free mammograms at Wallowa Memorial Hospital for women who can't otherwise afford the breast cancer screening procedure.

The donation was presented by local campaign chairman Jessie Kassahn to Missi Hayward, the hospital's diagnostic imaging department co-director, at a time when the mammography equipment is down and waiting for an inspection to get new certification.

Hayward said Friday that the inspection by the American College of Radiology (ACR) is "tentatively "scheduled on Nov. 12, but she's been told the inspection may have to be postponed.

The problem, she explained, is that apparently that all ACR inspectors live in the east, and three - a radiologist, a technician and a physicist - are required to do the onsite inspection.

"We call every day and talk to ACR," said Hayward Friday. She said she planned to start putting pressure on ACR Monday of this week to get the inspection done on Nov. 12, as scheduled through the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

The mammogram machine has been down since mid-August, when the department employees saw the mammography film processor was malfunctioning. They called someone to recalibrate the processor, and also sent information to ACR to notify the organization about the problem. The hospital is not allowed to offer mammograms again until the ACR inspectors give the go-ahead, even though the equipment was fixed not long after it malfunctioned, Hayward said.

She said that mammograms done before are "fine," because it was immediately evident when the processor stopped working properly.

After the hospital receives new certification, Hayward said it plans to offer mammograms at 20- or 30-minute intervals six days a week to catch up the backload.

"If we are up and running, we should be caught up by December, and woman can schedule their mammograms before the end of the year," Hayward said.

The mammography machine at the hospital, which is about five years old, is the only piece of equipment in the radiology department that still uses film; all the other equipment is digital.

Hayward said that a digital mammography machine is already in the hospital's 2009 budget, and she plans to start looking at equipment in the fall of 2008 to avoid this problem in the future.

Hayward was very appreciative of the CJD Tough Enough to Wear Pink donation, which she said, added to money left over from last year, would be enough for 16 to 18 mammogram vouchers of $250 each. Women without insurance are invited to apply for a voucher by applying to department co-directors Hayward and Sarah Johnson.

Kassahn said that during the first year of the Tough Enough to Wear Pink campaign to combat breast cancer, CJD was able to donate $2,500. This year, donations to the effort by businesses and individuals was augmented by pink chaps, which were auctioned off for $1,100 during this year's rodeo celebration. The buyer was Michael Gaughan, owner of a ranch along the Lostine River and owner of South Point Casino in Las Vegas, Nev. The pink chaps are now on display at the casino.

Kassahn said that another pair of custom pink chaps are already being made for next year's CJD pink campaign against breast cancer, and asks anyone interested in donating to the cause to call her at 432-0720 or by e-mail at (cjd@eoni.com). One may also contact the Joseph Chamber of Commerce at 432-1015.

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