Women in Spirit River will have local access to mammography services when the Alberta Health Services Screen Test program rolls into the community next month. Women ages 50 through 74, identified as being most at risk of breast cancer, are the target demographic most encouraged to take advantage of the service while it is available.

AHS Screen Test Manager Joan Hauber says due to COVID-19, the team has had to adjust appointment times to better adhere to social distancing and sanitation protocols.

“We’ve decreased the [number] of clients we see every hour and that just allows us to have fewer clients on the trailer at any one time, and also to allow our technologists to be able to do a little bit more intense cleaning in between clients,” she says.

The mobile mammography trailer will be stationed at the Central Peace Health Complex in Spirit River, October 5th to 10th. Due to COVID-19 having delayed the Screen Test schedule, Silver Valley clients are encouraged to book their mammograms at the Spirit River clinic before the arrival of the trailer.

Residents are also able to book an appointment or learn more about the program by calling 1-800-667-0604. AHS says COVID-19 precautions will be shared with clients when they call to book an appointment.

Hauber says when clients call in to book their appointments they will also be directed to follow some updated queue procedures.

“One of the things we ask clients to do is to not come on board the trailer when they get to the site. Before people could just walk on, sit down and whathaveyou but now we ask them to stay in their vehicles and the technologists will call them,” she says.

When clients are called they will be asked a health assessment questionnaire to ensure they are not showing any symptoms before coming on board. Clients will also be required to sanitize their hands when entering the trailer and will be provided with a mask.

Hauber says the team is stressing to women that they call ahead of time to book an appointment, as walk-in clients will be prohibited. She adds the service is available to women outside of the target demographic, but only after they have consulted with their doctor before booking an appointment.

“We will still see women 40-49 but if it’s their first mammogram we will ask that they get a referral from their family physician,” she says. “For women who are 75 and over, we ask that they [also] speak to their family physician before they come in; again it’s just to make sure mammography is continuing to be beneficial for them.”

“If they have other health concerns or other issues it may not be the best time to have a mammogram.”

The trailer is one of two that operate across the province and covers communities north of Edmonton on an annual basis.