Summit rallied for digital mammography |

Summit rallied for digital mammography

LORY POUNDERsummit daily newsSummit County, CO Colorado

FRISCO – Digital mammography for Summit County is closer than ever.When the numbers came in from the most recent fundraiser, heARTbeat of the Summit, the goal of $250,000 was surpassed and the steps to bring the machine to St. Anthony Summit Medical Center began. Last week, the final papers went through for the about $500,000 machine that will be half funded by the hospital, and it is expected to arrive within four to six months, officials said.”It is a huge positive here,” said Valerie Lash, director of medical images at the hospital.A digital machine has proven to be significantly more helpful for three groups – women with dense breasts, women under age 50 and pre- or perimenupausal women, Lash said. And because many women in Summit County are active and healthy, there is a large population of dense-breasted women, she added.Many of them have had to travel out of the county for the test for this reason, Lash said. However, when the digital machine arrives, they will be able to stay here.Currently, the hospital has an analog mammography machine. In 2006, 1,729 patients came to the hospital for a mammogram and this year the number is projected to be just under 2,000, Lash said. Digital allows images to be acquired more quickly and magnification of certain areas can be done instead of needing to take additional film, Lash said. Also, the results can be instantly transmitted off-site for another reading.How the community came together to raise awareness and funding for the machine “says a lot about the people who live here,” Lash said.The effort to bring digital mammography to Summit began when the hospital opened in December 2005. At that time, Joan Davids, who spearheaded it all, met with Paul Chodkowski, hospital administrator, about changing from analog to digital.”I’m a breast cancer survivor and truly understand the need for early detection,” said Davids, explaining her interest in brining it here. It is the cutting-edge technology and in certain populations of women, it produces better results, she continued.Chodkowski looked into the possibility of getting a digital machine, but it is a challenge to get that equipment in a smaller community, he said. Basically, because of the low usage it would take too many years to pay back the investment, he explained. However, with the fundraising effort that came up with half the cost, digital mammography in Summit became possible, Chodkowski said, adding that he is impressed with the tremendous community support.For the six months following her initial meeting with hospital officials, Davids worked to raise awareness. Then in June 2006 the first fundraiser was held.Half of the money came from individual gifts and donations and the other came from grants, Davids said. Summit County Government, The Summit Foundation, Susan G. Komen For the Cure, Colorado Grand and the Towns of Breckenridge, Frisco and Silverthorne provided grants for more than $10,000. Also, some of the major gifts from organizations in the county include Women of the Summit, Summit County Seniors, Breckenridge Masonic Temple and the Summit Historical Society. And at the November heARTbeat of the Summit event by the Summit Medical Center Health Foundation, more than $38,000 was raised.The majority of the funds raised will go toward the purchase of the machine and a portion will be directed to support mammograms for uninsured and underinsured county residents as well as provide necessary training for staff, according to a press release.”The community as a whole stepped up to say this is something we want,” Davids said.Lory Pounder can be reached at (970) 668-4628, or at

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