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ETMC Athens Breast Care Center re-accredited by state

Digital mammography unit and soft MammoPad offer top care

Athens Mammography Area 
The radiology department at ETMC Athens was re-accredited recently by the state of Texas. The ETMC Athens Breast Care Center features a state-of-the-art, full field digital mammography unit. Pictured (from left) are mammographers Jennifer Parker and Shelly  Robertson. 

The radiology department at ETMC Athens received expected but still very welcome news recently. Department Director Richard Vasquez was notified by the state that the facility has successfully passed the mammography accreditation renewal process. That means they may continue doing excellent work without interruption.


“We’ve always been re-accredited without having to re-apply because we’re prepared,” said Vasquez. “We have an experienced physicist, an experienced radiologist and experienced mammographers. It’s a great team effort.”

Mammographer Shelly Robertson, RT(M), said she has been seeing many of the same patients for 18 years.

“I love working in mammography so much because it’s personal,” she said. “My patients often become my friends. I ask about their families, and they ask about mine. It makes you feel good.”

Robertson works with fellow mammographer Jennifer Parker, RT(R). Dr. Harold Smitson is the experienced radiologist who interprets the images.

ETMC Athens began using a state-of-the-art, full field digital mammography unit in 2009.

“With the digital unit, we can manipulate the image in a way that isn’t possible with film. And the image resolution is so much higher,” said Vasquez.

CAD program
Once the images are captured, they are sent to a CAD program (Computer Aided Device) that “looks” at the images prior to the radiologist and identifies any areas of potential concern. From there, they are sent on to a reading station where Dr. Smitson examines them.

The use of a digital mammography unit shortened the amount of time it previously took to capture the necessary images.

In addition, Robertson pointed out that, unlike some other breast care centers, ETMC Athens routinely uses a MammoPad without additional charge. A MammoPad is a soft, foam pad that provides a cushion between a woman’s skin and the mammography machine.

“It can make a big difference in comfort,” said Robertson.

The American Cancer Society recommends women from the ages of 20 to 39 have clinical breast exams performed by their healthcare providers at least every three years and do self-exams once a month. Ask your healthcare provider to teach you the proper way to do a thorough breast self-exam.

Women 40 and over should have mammograms and clinical breast exams performed every year, as well as performing breast self-exams each month.

 If you have a history of breast cancer in your family, discuss mammography screening guidelines and scheduling with your healthcare provider.

To schedule an appointment or for more information about the mammography system at the ETMC Athens Breast Care Center, please call 903-676-2169.