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An Annual Event

Karen Rene is very glad that her mammogram comes with a pep talk every year.

The healthy 71-year-old woman rarely goes to see a doctor, except for her yearly check-up, but she knows that she needs to keep up with her preventative care.

For decades, she’s been getting the message strong and clear from the woman who helps with her screening for breast cancer. Jamestown radiology supervisor Rhonda Kutz gives her a mammogram and reminds her each time why she needs to keep coming back, Karen says.

“She told me from the start, ‘I know you’re one of those women who don’t want to go to the doctor, but if something happens, you want to catch it right away,’” Karen says. “I understand the importance of this because of Rhonda.”

An important service

Since 1999, patients have been able to get mammograms Monday through Friday at the Sanford Jamestown Clinic. Prior to that, the area had been served only by mobile mammography. The next closest location where screening is available daily is over 200 miles away.

Kutz, who helped open the mammography department in Jamestown, said the clinic is important to busy women who need convenient care.

“We want to provide everything we can right here,” says Kutz. “Being able to schedule that appointment without having to take a day off of work and drive in the winter over to Fargo is a huge thing for these women.”

Digital mammography has been offered as a regular service at the Jamestown clinic since July. While process of getting a digital mammogram is about the same for the patient as a traditional mammogram, there are some diagnostic benefits to the new technology, Kutz says.

Radiologists get a more detailed picture with the new technology, especially with dense breast tissue. Jamestown patients who need a second view, an additional mammogram to more closely examine what may be a problem area, can also now do that at the Jamestown clinic with the digital mammogram.

Building relationships

Karen says she started going to the Sanford Jamestown Clinic almost 40 years ago. She’s always appreciated the way her doctors and everyone on their staff combined the highest quality professional care with compassion and comfort.

“I’ve always had the feeling that when I go here I’m getting the best care,” Karen says. “I trust my doctors and know I can believe what they say.”

With seven grandchildren, ranging from age 8 to 21, Karen has plenty on her schedule. She loves hockey, watching several grandsons play at the beginner level and is an avid fan of the University of North Dakota Fighting Sioux Hockey team. She and her husband have season tickets and try to never miss a game.

Staying active and feeling good is key to enjoying her retirement years with her family, Karen says. After watching some relatives struggle with cancer and heart disease, she appreciates her good health even more.

“I appreciate every healthy day,” Karen says. “I make a point to do things so I don’t just sit around.”

Providing the best care

Karen says she finds the friendly approach from staff at the Sanford Jamestown Clinic makes it easier and more pleasant to keep up with annual screenings and appointments. Over the years, she has gotten to know Kutz, who did her mammograms with the mobile unit that served Jamestown long before regular service was made available at the clinic.

“I go and get that clean bill of health so I know that I am really healthy,” says Karen. “We’ve talked about the importance of self-exams and finding out about cancer at its earliest stages when it is really the easiest to treat.”

Kutz said she knows that her patients don’t like to think about the possibility of cancer, but she takes every opportunity to make them feel valued and comfortable. Each woman she sees is a person Kutz cares for and about.

The experienced radiology supervisor said she hopes that she can get the message across to each and every woman that she needs to take the time for that very important screening test. Don’t wait, she says.

“They know that I want to do the best I can to provide the best care I can,” she says. “I tell them, I really want to see you next year.”

To schedule your mammogram or get more information about mammograms at Sanford Health, click here.

Posted Date: September 2012