The University of Michigan Hospital building pictured from the sidewalk level. Rogel Cancer Center signs are in front of the building.
Lucas Chen/Daily. Buy this photo.

Michigan Medicine announced on Jan. 12 it will be opening a mobile mammography unit at the Ypsilanti Health Center in February. The vehicle unit will operate out of the Rogel Cancer Center and will include a reception area, two dressing rooms and an imaging suite.

Mammograms — X-ray images of breast tissue used to screen for breast cancer —  can detect some breast cancers before they become noticeable, resulting in earlier and more successful treatment. The American Cancer Society recommends all people with breasts ages 45 to 54 should get mammograms annually.

In an interview with The Michigan Daily, T. Anthony Denton, Michigan Medicine senior vice president and chief operating officer, said using the mobile unit to provide mammography services at the Ypsilanti Health Center will help Michigan Medicine achieve its goals for more equitable and improved access to care for all populations. 

“We’ve tried to determine where there are gaps and … start an action plan that would address those gaps by providing services, including bringing care closer to where people live,” Denton said.

Ypsilanti Health Center currently offers primary care consultations but patients in need of mammograms and other imaging services have to travel to Michigan Medicine’s Ann Arbor locations. Denton said traveling to Ann Arbor for imaging services can be particularly time-consuming if the patient is using public transportation, an issue Michigan Medicine hopes to resolve with the primary location of the new mobile unit.

“With this model, we expect that it will be more convenient because it will be closer,” Denton said. “It will be nearer to … (the) downtown transit center. So we’re trying to do whatever we can to make the future model easier to access, (and) therefore (providing) greater opportunity to detect issues that might exist in order to address them earlier.”

Rackham student Qiaochu Chen told The Daily she believes the availability of a mobile unit will make it easier for patients to receive screening services, though the pandemic caused staffing and funding shortages in the health care system.. 

“I think it’s very convenient,” Chen said. “Although the COVID-19 (pandemic) has been ongoing for many years, with the back-up in hirings … I think if (patients) don’t need to go to (further away health care facilities), it will be easier for them.”

Denton said the Ypsilanti Health Center will be undergoing a number of other changes to bring quality care to its patients, including plans to relocate the facility to a larger site and offering an increased range of specialty services. According to Denton, Michigan Medicine hopes to open the new facility in 2023 with a separate fixed mammography unit at the facility’s center, therefore allowing the mobile unit to be utilized by other communities. 

“It’s too early to say what (the) other communities (that will use the unit) are,” Denton said. “We’re looking in different areas in Southeast Michigan where there are communities that don’t have access to these services to follow the same model … so we can continue to extend our reach into these communities (to provide) services.”

Public Health senior Fatema Dohadwal told The Daily she was excited to hear about the mobile unit.

“I think it’s really important in increasing access to care,” Dohadwal said. “Which is huge, especially in underserved areas. And I think being able to have that technology is really gonna do exactly that: increase access to care to underserved populations, where it’s needed the most.”

Daily News Reporter Nadia Taeckens can be reached at