A Roundup Of Recent Developments
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A Roundup Of Recent Developments

Mobile breast-imaging vans, cancer center coming to northern Israel, abortion fight in Poland.

Taking Mammograms On The Road

As dawn breaks over the Houston suburb of Sugar Land one recent morning, a 39-foot-long, pink-and-gray mobile coach pulls into a school parking lot.

For more than an hour, Dr. Daniel Roubein and three staff members (a community health worker clinical assistant and technologist) turn on the van’s generator, switch on its state-of-the-art imaging equipment, calibrate the machines and review the calendar of the day’s appointments.

Another day is about to begin for Mammosafe, an increasingly in-demand mobile breast cancer mammography unit.

Roubein, a 48-year-old native of Highland Park, N.J., who founded Mammosafe 3½ years ago, brings the van, which he designed himself (at first he also did the driving too, before handing off that responsibility to a member of his staff), to venues throughout southeast Texas, many of them rural and isolated, in a 90-mile radius of Houston.

Mammosafe travels to school districts, office buildings and health care centers (some lack advanced imaging capabilities), whose employees would find it difficult to take time off from work or from responsibilities at home to schedule a mammography; Roubein sometimes schedules follow-up appointments at hospital or clinics an hour or two away.

“It was a calling. I was tired of seeing women skip mammograms because they didn’t have time,” said Roubein, who is an active member of Houston’s Jewish community.

Mammosafe (mammosafe.com) calls itself “the nation’s only truly mobile, full-service breast imaging center offering screening mammography, diagnostic mammography and breast ultrasound.”

Its services include screening mammography for women 40 and under with no breast problems; diagnostic mammography for women – and men – with a problem like a lump; and breast ultrasound.

Other mobile mammography units in the United States offer a limited array of services, and do not feature a radiologist on-board who can interpret a patient’s results and consult on further treatment, if needed, Roubein said.

On an average day, some three dozen women step aboard, from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m., at 15-minute intervals. The van’s four rooms, divided by opaque doors, ensure patients’ privacy.

“It’s very convenient … an invaluable service,” said Christine Nunez, a health services coordinator in the Houston area who goes to Mammosafe for her own mammograms when the van comes to her area. “For me, it’s a make-or-break situation. I would not take the time off from work to have it done” at a distant location.

No one keeps track of the number of such mobile units, but the national figure appears to be a few dozen, and growing, because of their appeal to isolated parts of the population.

“The biggest benefit to mobile mammography is making access to screening easier in remote areas,” according to a spokesman for the National Institutes of Health.

Earlier a staff radiologist and chairman of radiology department at Christus Hospital-St. Elizabeth in Beaumont, Roubein was working at The Rose Galleria, an upscale clinic in Houston, when he left to establish Mammosafe.

His first week, he had 20 patients. Since then, the number has steadily grown. Over the last few years, Mammosafe has done imaging for “thousands and thousands” of women, and some men, Roubein says.

Eventually, he hopes to expand into nearby Louisiana and purchase a second van.

Roubein, who grew up in a Sephardic family and calls himself a traditional Jew, is a member of several committees at Congregation Beth Yeshurun, the city’s largest Conservative synagogue, and in 2008 earned a master’s degree in Jewish studies from Spertus Institute of Jewish Studies in Chicago.

The van is stored overnight and over weekends at a Houston warehouse.

Houston’s sometimes volatile weather — the city has been hit with major flooding in recent years — has not been an obstacle, Roubein said. “We’ve only had to cancel once.”

Dusk breaks over Sugar Land by the time the last patient leaves. For the next half hour, Roubein and his staff will turn off the equipment, pull out of the parking lot and head back to Houston.

Until they hit the road the next morning.

Steve Lipman/Houston; steve@jewishweek.org

N.Y. Developer’s $25 Million Funds Cancer Center In Afula

(JTA) — Supporters of Emek Medical Center in Afula broke ground late last month on a $25 million cancer center that will serve northern Israel.

New York real estate developer Chaim Katzman, the primary donor, was among those on hand for the ceremony. The center, which is expected to open in December 2019, will be named Beit Shulamit, or House of Shulamit, for his late wife.

Dr. Shulamit Katzman, a pediatrician and health care activist, succumbed to cancer in 2013. She was 49.

The center will offer daily care and have 36 inpatient beds, as well as a radiotherapy clinic, breast cancer center, children’s department, day clinic and surgical facilities for oncology patients.

Emek Medical Center has an oncology wing and center for chemotherapy, but radiation therapy is not available, according to a news release.

“There is a real shortage of oncology services in northern Israel, with many patients having to travel long distances for care and treatment,” Orna Blondheim, who heads the medical center, said in a statement. “This new center will go a long way in alleviating their discomfort and improve quality of care.”

The fundraising was facilitated by The Israel Healthcare Foundation, a U.S.-based nonprofit that supports the Clalit medical network in Israel. n

Polish Jewish Women Join Fight Over Abortion Law

Warsaw (JTA) – Polish women working for Jewish organizations joined other women in striking their jobs over proposed changes in the law on family planning in the country.

Thousands of women in many cities throughout Poland held protests earlier this month on “Black Monday” in opposition to stricter anti-abortion legislation proposed by an independent group that would forbid all pregnancy termination. Under Polish law, abortion is only permitted now in cases of rape, incest or a threat to the mother’s health, or when the baby is likely to be permanently handicapped.

Half of the women employed in full-time jobs at the Museum of the History of Polish Jews did not come to work on Monday. The museum reportedly functioned normally, with only minor difficulties in reaching the institution by telephone.

Workers and employees of the Jewish Theatre also joined the strike. They published on Facebook a photograph with a note: “What differentiates us is age, gender, life experience and views on many issues. In this one we agree. Today, we, the workers and employees of the Jewish Theatre, join the Black Protest.” The offices of the Center for Yiddish Culture, which is part of the theater, also were closed due to the strike.

The protest was supported by the JCC in Warsaw and Krakow. Jonathan Ornstein, director of the Krakow JCC, stressed that the new law being proposed is unfair and wrong and does not respect a woman’s right to control her own body.

“JCC Krakow is guided by tikkun olam, the responsibility we all share to repair the world, and it is clear to us that we must stand up against the proposed changes,” he told JTA.

Because of Rosh HaShanah activities, the JCC could not close its building. Male employees replaced female employees and volunteers. A similar situation occurred in the Galicia Jewish Museum in Krakow.

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