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Diagnostic imaging

PEI reduces wait times for mammograms

CHARLOTTETOWN – Health PEI announced that improvements made to the Provincial Breast Screening Program have reduced wait times to a couple of weeks, down from a 12-month wait. “Government remains committed to improving healthcare services for Islanders,” said Health and Wellness Minister Carolyn Bertram.

“I am very pleased with the progress that has been made with the Provincial Breast Screening Program and the positive impact this will have on the health of Island women,” said Bertram.

“Many steps were taken and areas addressed in order to properly and effectively reduce wait times for routine breast screening appointments,” said Keith Dewar, Health PEI CEO. “We take access to healthcare services very seriously and are committed to resolving wait times through hard work and strategic planning. In this case, the result is that women can book a breast screening appointment that is a couple weeks from now and not months or a year from now. This is a significant achievement to a healthcare service that impacts all Islanders.”

Improvements to the provincial breast screening program included the installation of three new digital mammography units last year - two at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital (QEH) and one at Prince County Hospital (PCH).

The program also hired additional staff, secured a radiologist, and implemented a new centralized phone number and booking system last fall. Finally, hours of service at both the QEH and PCH breast screening sites were expanded to include evenings and weekends.

“While there are no defined national benchmarks for breast screening wait times, many regions offer a wait time that is within several weeks. We have been able to reduce our wait times so that they are well within other jurisdictions,” said Jamie MacDonald, Director of Diagnostic Imaging for Health PEI. “With improved access to breast screening services and capacity to offer more appointments, the next step is to educate and increase the percentage of Island women that get screened each year.”

Island women between the ages of 40 and 75 are eligible for a mammogram. A physician’s referral is not required to make a breast screening appointment.

“Education and early detection are the best defences against breast cancer,” added Minister Bertram. “I encourage Island women to get screened today.”

Picture: Premier Robert Ghiz (far right) and Health and Wellness Minister Carolyn Bertram (far left) toured the breast screening site at Prince Country Hospital (PCH) with Jamie MacDonald (left), Director of Diagnostic Imaging for Health PEI, and Heather Bulger (right), Supervisor of Breast Imaging at the PCH site.

Posted October 7, 2010