FIU Mammovan Empowers Women within Low Income Communities

The Mammovan setting up at a community location. Picture courtesy of @FIUmedicine on Twitter

Arianna Otero / Contributing Writer

Seven years ago the Linda Fenner 3D Mobile Mammography Center was created by Florida International University as a part of their Neighborhood Help Program. Since its creation, it has grown to be a symbol of women empowerment.

The Linda Fenner Mammography Center, is a part of the Neighborhood Help Program which works to help those who are suffering from social determinants of health. Social determinants of health are barriers that stop people from receiving healthcare whether it be lack of insurance, undocumented, lack of transportation or more. 

Many women who come to the center have never received a mammogram before, and may not have filled out health forms before. 

“One story I have is of a 50-year-old African-American woman who came onto the bus and when we started working on filling out consent forms she said she should leave, after asking why I found out she couldn’t read,” said Director Lorraine Nowakowski. “We read the forms for her, took her step by step and she left so empowered because we made her feel important.”

Servicing women who are at least 40 years of age, all who come will be attended by the teams’ physician, Dr. Julia Bisschops. Patients may also receive referrals for specialists, all of which is covered by the center.

The center, named in memory of Irma Braman’s sister, is able to run its service thanks to donations from the Braman dealership. Additionally, the Student Art Initiative, a program run by medical students who help on the bus, hosts an art show every year to raise funds.

Mammovan is able to work with these communities by reaching out to community leaders, whether it be the school principals or faith-based leaders, and working to build trust so those in the community are informed that the van is a safe place to receive help.

The work the center is doing helps many women who never knew they would be able to receive basic healthcare. They plan to continue working in the communities they serve in as well as continuing to advocate for breast cancer, women’s health, and empowering women.

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