I’ve been very bad. Despite my mother’s death from breast cancer, I haven’t had a mammogram for two and a half years. I meant to. I was going to get around to it. Really.
Now where have I heard that before? Oh yeah: patients! Lots of them. Everyone filled with good intentions, who never get around to making that call.
So I decided to parlay my procrastination into an “event” for my patients:
Dr. Lucy’s Bagels and Boobs*
For the last few months we’ve been recruiting patients. Two weeks ago we assembled everyone’s demographic and insurance information and sent it ahead to the hospital, so that everyone was pre-registered. Last week we called everyone back to confirm, told them where and when to show up, not to forget their photo ID (anyone who forgot their prescription: no problem! I brought along my pad of pre-printed mammogram slips and wrote out the doctor’s order on the spot), and reminded them about not wearing any powder, lotion, or deodorant. And today was the day!
I stopped by Panera Bread yesterday to pre-order bagels. (Bagel Pack: 13 bagels, 2 tubs of cream cheese for $12.99; such a deal!) Picked them up today. Got to the hospital 45 minutes early. Put up signs directing the ladies from Outpatient Registration to the Breast Center, and sat back to wait. Actually, it was suggested that I get my mammogram done first so that I’d be available to my patients as they arrived, so that was accomplished. My office manager was there too, so there was a second familiar face.
And we had a blast!
There were twelve women in addition to me, and everyone had a great time. Coffee (provided by the hospital; their Breast Health Center is really posh); bagels; magazines; sitting around in robes — several said it felt like a spa! The staff was amazing. Two techs, who were really amazingly good, got everyone smashed imaged in record time. Lots of laughter and visiting. Privacy rules don’t apply to patients, so when one woman showed up in a t-shirt with her company’s name on it, she was promptly chatted up by two other women who worked for the same company. Another woman — not one of my patients — walked in, took one look at me, and asked if I remembered her. Once she reminded me that she was a drug rep who used to call on me, I did. Of course I invited her as well as all the other regularly scheduled patients (plus the staff) to partake of the bagel spread. The receptionist turned out to be the sister-in-law of one of my patient’s sons; several other women discovered they were neighbors, or neighbors of relatives.
All in all, it was a smashing good time. (A good smashing time?) Several ladies had gone over a decade without a mammogram; some had never had one. Many said specifically that they wouldn’t have had one if we hadn’t done this event. How much of that sentiment was due to our greasing the skids, so to speak — taking care of as much of the administration and paperwork as we did — and how much was the lure of food, who knows? Doesn’t matter. As of today there are twelve more patients successfully screened for breast cancer than yesterday, and I think that’s a good thing.
I think we’re going to have to make this an annual event.
*Actual title courtesy of DS. Thank you, dear.