Health Care

Joanie Abdu Center Increases Access with Poland Site

POLAND, Ohio – Starting today women who live in the southeastern part of Mahoning County will be able to receive breast cancer screenings with 3D mammography through the Joanie Abdu Comprehensive Breast Care Center, without traveling to downtown Youngstown.

On Wednesday, Mercy Health – Youngstown and the Joanie Abdu Center unveiled its first 3D mammography-screening site within Mercy Health’s Poland Imaging Center on Clingan Road in Poland.

“This new site is another representation of Dr. Abdu’s vision of care that everyone can access, regardless of geography or financial ability,” said Juliane Dulay, manager of the Joanie Abdu Center.

The 3D technology enables easier detection of breast cancer with greater clarity in the X-ray images than 2D images.

First, a patient is positioned forward to face the 3D mammogram machine, one breast at a time compressed by two plates. Then the machine’s robotic arm moves in an arc over the breast and 3D X-ray images are taken.

The images allow doctors to be able to examine the breast in one-millimeter slices, which make it easier to discern if there is something abnormal in the breast.

This causes fewer callbacks for a woman to undergo a second mammogram.

If there is an abnormal finding in the images the patient is, “seamlessly integrated back to Joanie Abdu at the main campus and can get more of their complicated diagnostics,” said Dr. Nancy Gantt, co-medical director of the center. “It’s going to be an absolutely terrific opportunity to give more women amazing care.”

Having the site in Poland increases access to many women who don’t want to make the drive to the center’s main campus downtown at St. Elizabeth Youngstown Hospital.

“We do have a large contingency of patients from Poland, Boardman and Canfield so this would be a more convenient access for them,” said Kathy Cook, president of St. Joseph Warren Hospital and oncology administrator. “If there is a positive finding we will ensure that the patient is connected with a breast care navigator and she gets her proper appointments, comes in and gets further testing and that she gets the level of care that she needs today.”

The total investment for the Poland site was $300,000 and was funded through private donors and fundraising. One of the largest fundraising efforts for the Joanie Abdu Center is the Panerathon held by Covelli Enterprises, which raised $515,000 for the center in August.

It is also through this funding that women will be able to receive screenings, regardless of their income, at the Poland site with Joanie’s Promise, which is a program that helps women who financially qualify receive care at no cost.

Joanie’s Promise is also offered at the center’s main campus and via the Joanie-on-the-Go mobile unit.

“No one is turned away,” said Dr. Rashid Abdu, who founded the Joanie Abdu Center in 2011 in memory of his wife who died of breast cancer. “It’s very important for everyone regardless of their income or economic status to get a mammogram and that’s the reason we have Joanie’s Promise is to take care of those women who can’t afford it.”

Since starting Joanie’s Promise in 2011, Abdu believes he has begun to see the impacts of the program in the Mahoning Valley.

“Over the last three years we are seeing more of the stage one cancer, the early cancer, than the bad ones that we’re used to,” Abdu said. “So we have a feeling that what we’re doing may have some effect by alerting woman to come early, have better treatment and have better outcomes.”

Abdu hopes that by extending the Joanie Abdu Center’s services to other areas in the region that it will help to detect more breast cancer at an early stage, which means a higher rate of survival from cancer.

“We are very proud of what we have and we are very happy that every woman that comes to this center receives the care and compassion that she can get anywhere in the country,” Abdu said. “There’s no reason for any woman within reach to go to a big city like Pittsburgh, Cleveland or anywhere else like we used to do before.”

Pictured: Juliane Dulay, manager; Dr. Rashid Abdu, founder; and Dr. Nancy Gantt, co-medical director of the Joanie Abdu Comprehensive Breast Care Center; Donald Kline, Mercy Health-Youngstown president and CEO; and Paul Homick, president of the Mercy Health Foundation Mahoning Valley.

Published by The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.