October 16, 2009
For immediate release
Mammography Screening Program Undergoing Enhancements
Enhancements to the provincial breast screening program include much more than just the installation of three new digital mammography units – two of which are at Queen Elizabeth Hospital and one at Prince County Hospital. Four new positions to support the program have been added, as well as a new centralized phone number and booking system.
“We are pleased to be able to improve services and reduce wait times in this important program for Islanders,” said Minister Currie. “As is the case in most areas, our health resources and technology need to be continually improved as a means to improving patient care. In a short time, we have taken many positive steps forward which are in keeping with Government’s overall vision of One Island Future - One Island Health System.”
Current wait times for asymptomatic women is approximately twelve months. The goal of these improvements will reduce this window to a three to four month wait time. Women with symptoms or in urgent situations, as referred by a physician, have a wait time of less than two weeks. This is well within national wait time guidelines.
The new centralized phone number and booking system are being implemented during the month of October. The transition to the new system will take approximately two weeks. During the changeover, a majority of Island women who currently have appointments are being contacted and informed that their appointment may be changed. Those calling for an appointment will have their names and information placed into a database and will receive a call to confirm their appointment date once the new system is up.
“The benefit of implementing this new system is to reduce wait times for Island women,” said Jamie MacDonald, Provincial Director of Diagnostic Imaging. “If we give women who call today an appointment under our old booking system, the wait time could be over one year. Once the new system is up and running, we can give them a much earlier appointment as the new system has the capability of booking up to 100 new appointments per week.”
Under this new system, women will also be able to choose the breast screening site they want to go to for their appointment. While it is anticipated that most women will generally select the site with the shortest wait time, some may select their site based on convenience of location.
The Department of Health is also exploring various options to support the need for additional radiologists to read mammography images on PEI. The additional health human resource will further assist with the reduction of wait times.