Houlton hospital closer to obtaining digital mammography equipment

Posted Aug. 01, 2011, at 7:42 p.m.

HOULTON, Maine — Houlton Regional Hospital is getting closer to securing digital mammography equipment thanks to donations and fundraising efforts.

The Houlton Regional Health Services Foundation recently accepted a $25,000 donation from Katahdin Valley Health Center, another significant health care provider in southern Aroostook and Penobscot counties.

The foundation kicked off its digital mammography campaign last October to coincide with Breast Cancer Awareness Month.

In the past few years, foundation grants have helped finance a handicapped-accessible van, a defibrillator for a local school, a new pediatric suite at the hospital and a new nuclear medicine imaging camera.

A number of rural hospitals and facilities, including Houlton Regional Hospital, still do not have a digital mammography machine.

The foundation also garnered $3,280 from a quilt raffle on the Fourth of July.

Durward Humphrey, chief executive officer of Katahdin Valley Health Center, said the center was pleased to donate $25,000 to the foundation.

In 2001, the Houlton Regional Health Services Foundation raised money to buy the hospital’s current mammography equipment. Upgrading to digital mammography will cost approximately $300,000. Dr. James Madix, chief of radiology at Houlton Regional Hospital, said digital equipment is more sensitive and detects cancer with greater accuracy. It is able to show uniform quality over a range of conditions and breast sizes and is better at penetrating dense tissue. He added that digital machines also make it possible to manipulate images by zooming in or adjusting contrast if there’s a suspected calcification or mass.

Hospitals in Presque Isle, Caribou and Millinocket have the equipment.

Elizabeth Dulin, the foundation’s executive director, said her organization makes it a priority to help the hospital purchase the most vital equipment. She expressed thanks to Katahdin Valley Health Center for its donation and also lauded others who helped make the quilt raffle possible.

“This funding from Katahdin Valley Health Center is another major step toward reaching the digital mammography campaign goal for Houlton Regional, and we are grateful for their generosity and being a part of this very important initiative,” said Dulin.

The foundation also has garnered a number of other donations toward their cause.

First opened in Houlton in 2009, Katahdin Valley Health Center serves more than 4,600 patients annually, most of whom are uninsured or underinsured. The center offers sliding fees to patients who meet federal income guidelines, with discounts ranging from 20 to 80 percent per visit.

The facility is served by doctors, a physician assistant, registered nurses and other personnel. It is being expanded to include a new dental clinic.

The center offers family medicine, men’s and women’s health care, prescription assistance and a laboratory.

Based in Patten, Katahdin Valley Health Center also has a branch in Island Falls and runs a full-service medical and dental clinic in Millinocket.

Anyone wishing to know more about the fundraising project or the Houlton Regional Health Services Foundation may call 521-2147 or visit www.healthservicesfoundation.org.

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