Mammograms shift to Sacred Heart

Published: Wednesday, June 19, 2013 at 04:15 PM.

Outdated equipment at Weems Memorial Hospital, in need of repair or replacement, has led to a shift to Sacred Heart Hospital on the Gulf of mammography services for Franklin County.

Franklin Needs, Inc. the volunteer group of Franklin County women who have been instrumental in raising funds for providing breast cancer screenings, has announced that beginning this month, all the mammograms that they fund will be performed at Sacred Heart.

The decision to direct business to the hospital in Port St. Joe came as a result of a perfect storm of factors - a breakdown in Weems’ outdated analog mammography machine, the preference by physicians for digital mammograms and Sacred Heart’s competitive pricing for the diagnostic procedure.

“The program is moving to the next closest hospital (to Weems) which is Sacred Heart,” said Elaine Kozlowsky, a board member for Franklin Needs. “They have given us a better price than either Weems or Bay Radiology, a flat fee for screening digital mammogram, diagnostic mammogram and ultrasound.”

Weems CEO Ray Brownsworth said between Nov. 2011 and Oct. 2012, Weems conducted 58 mammography tests, and has done about 20 in the past seven months.

“The majority of those were being diverted already, even when the machine was up and working, because the analog (equipment) was no longer able to meet the requirements of the diagnosing physicians,” said Brownsworth. “They (women) would come here and get re-sent over to Bay Medical at the time.”

Brownsworth said there had been a drop-off in utilization prior to the decision by Franklin Needs, which came following a meeting with the CEO. “They met with me prior to the decision and sought my input which I greatly appreciate,” said Brownsworth. “In that meeting, I shared our plan to replace our older technology and to once again provide mammography services to the women of Franklin County. They were supportive and expressed a desire to resume our relationship in the future.”

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