Free Mammography Suspended Due To COVID – A Houston nonprofit group that provides breast screenings and biopsies regardless of patients’ ability to pay has suspended services at its two locations as well as through its mobile mammography coaches because of precautions related to the novel coronavirus pandemic.
The Rose, which used the mobile program to reach underserved communities in the region, is continuing to offer an answering service maintained by staff members, group co-founder Dorothy Gibbons said in an email message.
“Until our offices are open again, we have attempted to redirect patients to other centers for diagnostic care, but unfortunately the options of open centers have dwindled, and none will accept (uninsured patients) at this time,” Gibbons said.
The Rose completed its last screenings, evaluations and consultations on March 23 before suspending services based on the recommendations by the federal, state and local government officials to slow the spread of the coronavirus, or COVID-19.
The organization has centers at 12700 N. Featherwood in Houston and 5420 West Loop South in Bellaire.
The Rose was established in 1982 by Gibbons and Dr. Dixie Melillo to provide breast care services to insured and uninsured women and men and operates on the premise that those who can afford treatment provide the funding infrastructure for those who cannot.
While the group was founded with the mission to work around obstacles to healthcare access, the pandemic has presented an unprecedented challenge.
“Within the last month, the world has been hit with a crisis not seen in more than a century — a global pandemic, COVID-19,” Gibbons said. “This pandemic is causing chaos among all industry sectors, including nonprofits like The Rose.”
According to Gibbons, if someone has an urgent concern or need, they can still call the group at 281-484-4708.
The organization is doing its best, said Gibbons, to give patients information and a support system needed as they seek other resources, even as those options become scarce.
The core premise of the Rose has always been its mission to treat all people regardless of ability to pay.
“We absolutely refuse to turn away uninsured patients that need breast health care,” Gibbons said. “These patients are already fearful of this pandemic, and we do not want them worrying about how they will pay for their breast health services when we reopen our diagnostic centers.”
Gibbons, cited statistics from the Episcopal Health Foundation that had 25 percent of Texas residents listed as uninsured before the pandemic. She worries about the long-term impact on the economy and how that will affect nonprofits like The Rose that rely on public and private funding.
“We fear how much more the need will exist with so many people currently without employment and losing their health insurance,” she said. “Since this pandemic hit, there has been an unprecedented surge in unemployment claims within the state of Texas.”
Without the funding that comes from its normal operations as well as community fundraisers such as the annual shrimp boil traditionally held in July, the Rose will also be dealing with the financial fallout of suspended services.
“The Rose,” said Gibbons, “must be prepared to meet the needs of all our patients once reopened, but without servicing insured patients during this period, we are not receiving the revenue needed from these patients that help offset the costs to care for our uninsured patients.”
Gibbons estimates that for every month of suspended services, The Rose will lose an estimated $900,000 of revenue from insured patients.