Awareness and Treatment

Providence Hood River Memorial Hospital installs new mammography unit

A six-month community fund-raising effort culminated Thursday with the dedication of the new mammography machine at Providence Hood River Memorial Hospital. A simple ceremony was held outside the room where the new machine sits, attended mostly by hospital staff and foundation members.

Gary Young, hospital chaplain, gave a brief prayer and spoke about “measuring” the new machine beyond its value as an “instrument of technology.”

“I suggest we measure it in a different way,” he said. “Let’s measure it by the smile” a mother gives to her child, he said, and “by moonlit nights” enjoyed.

“Let’s measure it by the simple breath of life that breathes in and breathes out,” Young said.

Jim Clair, president of the PHRMH board, hailed the new machine as “state of the art equipment.”

“It further enhances the quality of care we offer here at the hospital,” he said. The hospital’s foundation, led by director Judy Spellecy, began a fund-raising campaign in April to raise money to purchase the new machine, which is an upgrade of the hospital’s previous mammography machine.

The fund-raiser was boosted when Phil Jensen, owner of Luhr-Jensen & Sons, sold one of his collector cars, a 1966 Corvette Stingray, to the foundation at below-value cost to be raffled off for the cause. More than 700 raffle tickets were sold over the summer, raising about $55,000. In all, more than $130,000 was raised for the new machine.

“The generosity of many in this community funded this,” Clair said.

The new machine has more “bells and whistles” than the old one, according to the hospital’s mammography technicians.

A new, high-tech “grid system” incorporated into the machine reduces radiation scatter during mammograms and allows for sharper images with reduced radiation levels, according to technician Kim Mix. The new machine also has greater mobility, allowing for better wheelchair access. New technology has also made mammograms with the new machine more comfortable for patients.

An upgraded, built-in computer allows each technician to program it according to their preferences.

“Not only is it more patient-friendly, it’s more technician-friendly, too,” Mix said. An additional feature, to be added in the next few weeks, is an attachment to the machine that allows technicians to do biopsies with nearly instantaneous digital images rather than having to wait to develop film.

“We’re really excited about it,” Mix said.

Although the official dedication of the machine was Thursday, prior to the Business After Hours event hosted by the hospital, the unit was installed earlier in the week. By Friday, it had already been used for many of the nearly 75 mammograms done each week at the hospital.

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