New mammography coach fundraiser continues during the holidays
Kalispell Regional Healthcare (KRH) continues its fundraising campaign to replace the Winkley Women’s Center, the organization’s mobile mammography coach. For the past 11 years, the coach has helped eliminate barriers by making it faster and more convenient for women in rural Montana to have a mammogram screening, the key to lifesaving early detection of breast cancer. In all, more than 21,000 screenings were performed aboard the coach and 160 cancers were detected.
The Winkley Women’s Coach was started in 2008 and was named for local resident, philanthropist, and breast cancer survivor Jane Winkley, whose generosity made the coach possible. Over its eleven year tenure, it traveled 2,800 miles a month serving women from Eureka down to Polson, and multiple other communities along the hi-line as far as Malta. With 325,000 miles on the engine and a deteriorating body, it is no longer practical to invest in maintenance costs for a compromised structure. The 2D digital mammography equipment onboard the coach is now outdated as well. 3D technology is becoming the standard of care and should be available to all patients.
The cost to replace the fully equipped coach will be just over $1 million. The KRH Foundation has already begun to see donations come in from across the state, especially from those communities that the coach serves. At this year’s Lewis & Clark Festival in Cut Bank, three local girls took it upon themselves to raise money for the new coach by selling baked goods. Together they raised $109.50, which they promptly sent to Kalispell. Inspired by this story, donors have already begun sending checks to the Foundation in increments of $109.50.
"These gifts show the effect that the mobile mammography unit has on these rural communities,” says Tagen Vine, president of the KRH Foundation. “They know how important the coach is to their community and how many lives are being saved because of the convenience of not having to drive 60 miles or more which may be a barrier to screening. That’s why it’s so important for us to fund both the new vehicle and the 3D technology so we can continue this service to these communities for years to come.