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Taking HCI-Quality Care on the Road

speakers at the inaugural event for the HCI screening bus
Maurice (Mo) Smith, Executive Director of the Urban Indian Center, speaks at the inaugural screening bus event and press conference.

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In fall 2019, Huntsman Cancer Institute (HCI) unveiled the Cancer Screening and Education Bus. This state-of-the-art mobile clinic brings HCI’s expertise and the latest screening technology to residents across Utah, including those who live in distant areas and rural communities. This new service affirms HCI’s commitment to addressing the cancer-related needs of our state.

Utah has long been listed among the states with low breast cancer screening rates, regardless of insurance coverage. In addition, Utah leads the nation in melanoma incidence rates, a trend that continues to rise.

Finding cancer early is one of the most important ways to increase a person’s chance of survival. Efforts to increase access to breast and skin cancer screenings are a top priority for HCI.

The exterior of the 45-foot-long, custom-designed bus includes photos of Utah’s diverse residents and was inspired by community members, including HCI’s Community Advisory Board. The interior reflects the healing space of HCI’s cancer hospital and is equipped with the latest in 3D mammography equipment, an exam room, private changing rooms, and a waiting and education area. It also includes an ADA-approved wheelchair lift to guarantee accessibility to all. Patients who require follow-up care are referred to HCI’s hospital or community clinics in Salt Lake City, Farmington, South Jordan, and Sugar House.

"We have an enormous opportunity to bring HCI-level care into areas that are unable to connect to our brick-and-mortar locations," says Don Milligan, MBA, executive director of HCI’s hospital. "Our bus is on the road year-round to meet people where they live and work, making it convenient for them to be screened."

Through a robust network of partners, including the Utah Department of Health, University of Utah Health, the Association of Utah Community Health, and the American Cancer Society, the potential for impact is huge. In just four months, 632 women received mammograms in urban, rural, and frontier counties. More than half of the women identified as low-income and many had never had cancer screening before HCI’s visit.

"To make a real difference for women in Utah, we must focus on underserved and targeted communities," says Lynette Phillips, MPA, manager of HCI’s mobile screening program. "There is a misconception that HCI services are only accessible to certain populations or communities. HCI is not just a destination hospital. We are a dedicated community partner working with every community to connect, screen, and prevent cancer."

One of the first screening events took place at the Urban Indian Center of Salt Lake, a trusted community partner that serves American Indian/Alaska Native residents along the Wasatch Front. It is a gathering place for individuals and families that provides programs and services in primary care, behavioral health, and social services.

"Cancer screening and early detection is timely and important," says Maurice (Mo) Smith, Executive Director of the Urban Indian Center of Salt Lake. "If we are going to make an impact, we must work in true collaboration together as a community. We look forward to strengthening our relationship into the future to improve community health for American Indians, who are often disproportionately affected by cancer."

Learn more about screening at the Huntsman Cancer Institute.

Mammograms can find breast cancer early, when it is easiest to treat. Yet Utah has one of the lowest mammography rates in the United States. To address the issue, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention selected Utah as one of three states to participate in a Communities of Practice (CoP) initiative. Huntsman Cancer Institute is partnering with the American Cancer Society, Utah Department of Health, and Intermountain Healthcare in this initiative to improve breast cancer screening rates and in communities across the state.

Cancer touches all of us.