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New digital mammography machine brought on line in Fort

By Heather Latter
Fort Frances Times

Women of Rainy River District now have access to state-of-the-art technology with the official opening off the new digital mammography unit at La Verendrye Hospital Oct. 25th in Fort Frances.
The purchase of the equipment was made possible through the “Together We Can” campaign, which garnered $650,000 in pledges from groups, businesses, organizations, families, and individuals across the district.
“It was a terrific campaign,” co-chair Jan Beazley enthused during her opening remarks at the official opening held in the hospital’s cafeteria.
“The support of the district was tremendous,” she added, thanking the volunteers, committee members, and all who donated to the campaign over the past six months.
Beazley said she’s optimistic the campaign also raised awareness of breast health in the area, especially among younger women.
“It’s not just about mothers and grandmothers,” she stressed.
Fellow co-chair Christine Ruppenstein, meanwhile, noted that having the new digital mammography unit helps to make Fort Frances a viable community.
“Women won’t have to travel to have the procedure done,” she explained.
The new piece of equipment is able to take an X-ray of the breast digitally rather than with film that needs to be developed, which is the method that had been used at La Verendrye Hospital for the past 14 years.
The scans are captured directly onto a computer screen to offer state-of-the-art technology, which provides an improved viewing of dense breast tissue to give a more accurate detection of breast cancer.
During a tour of the new unit, mammography technologist Karen Egan was able to juxtapose a film scan and a digital image, highlighting the improved quality from the digital unit.
People easily could see that the digital image was much clearer and more defined.
Riverside CEO Allan Katz also noted the new machine reduces the woman’s exposure to radiation.
In addition, it offers easier image storage and retrieval. And the turnaround time for results is much quicker, as images can be sent electronically the same day rather than by courier.
“It is so great to have state-of-the-art equipment,” echoed Livia Lundon, who chairs the Riverside Foundation for Health Care.
On behalf of the board of directors, she congratulated the “Together We Can” committee for all of its hard work.
“The campaign was exciting and it brought the district together,” she remarked.
Katz added people from out-of-town were amazed by how the district truly was engaged in the hospital and the campaign.
“The support from everyone made it very clear that health care is important,” he stressed.
“It’s a testimony of everyone who has supported the campaign.”
The official opening also included a special tribute to Patti Johnson, who was the Riverside Family representative on the “Together We Can” committee but passed away in July after a courageous four-week battle with cancer.
“She really did make a difference and we thank her for all her hard work,” said Diane Clifford. “Patti was a wonderful gift to us. . . .
“She brought so many things—her laughter and just who she was as a person.”
Wanting to remember Johnson, the committee decided a quilt would be made in her memory as she loved quilting.
Gail Govier donated a beautiful quilt, which hangs, with a plaque, in the room where the digital mammography unit is located.
Clifford noted Johnson’s life was like the quilt—made up of many pieces and the border surrounding it all was love.
“She brought that into everything she did,” Clifford recalled. “We love her and we miss her.”
Those gathered in the cafeteria to celebrate the official opening enjoyed cake and coffee while the committee moved upstairs to the diagnostic imaging department for the ribbon-cutting.
People then were invited to tour the room and have a look at the new equipment.
“We’re very happy this day has come,” said Riverside Foundation director Nicke Baird.
“And we thank everyone who helped make this possible.”