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Centocor Wellness Program Includes Mobile Mammography Van

Centocor Wellness Program Includes Mobile Mammography Van

MALVERN, Penn-Centocor, Inc., a biotechnology company specializing in cancer products, has launched a major new employee wellness program, including breast cancer screening with a mobile mammography van. The program was initiated after company representatives attended the Industries' Coalition Against Cancer (ICAC) conference in Ft. Lauderdale this spring.

The coalition, founded by the journal Primary Care & Cancer, Zeneca Pharmaceuticals, Glaxo, Inc., and Merck & Co., is an organization of health-care products manufacturers, cancer centers, and voluntary health organizations dedicated to promoting cancer education and screening in the workplace.

Coalition organizers told attendees that they would be calling on them 6 months after the end of the conference to check on progress, and Centocor decided not to let them down. "We're putting our money where our mouth is," said Bruce Carroll, manager of government relations at Centocor.

The company initiated its Healthwise program for its 350 employees with a month's worth of daily activities. Putting it all together has been challenging, said benefits specialist Sandra Faragalli. "When you start a program for the first time, there are so many bugs to iron out. It's been a pretty overwhelming task," Ms. Faragalli said.

Some of her efforts were as simple as working with the cafeteria to provide a healthy entree every day. As an incentive to select the low-calorie, low-fat entrees, the purchaser's name is entered in a raffle each time one is bought, and every 11th entree is free. Vendors also visit the cafeteria to give out samples of their nutritious products.

Stretching and massage are also being featured in the cafeteria courtesy of nearby Great Valley Health Club. Noontime seminars have covered such topics as stress management, cardiac health, and men's health. Another big hit was the September 20th walk-a-thon in which about 150 employees, including Centocor president and CEO David Holveck and other top executives, took a lap or two around the 1-mile road that snakes through the wooded corporate park.

Mammography Van Booked Up

On the cancer prevention front, Centocor is not only offering breast self-exam classes but also screening mam-mography provided through a mobile mammography van, operated as a joint venture between Fox Chase Cancer Center and U.S. Healthcare.

The van was booked to capacity for its morning visit to the back parking lot of Centocor, with about 20 women signed up, about half of them getting a mam-mogram for the first time.

"It only takes 10 minutes, and it's right at work," Ms. Faragalli said. One employee headed into the van for her first mammogram shared that sentiment: "I like the availability. The labs just don't have good hours for working women."

Susan Higman, administrator of the mobile mammography program, says that Fox Chase, which provides the technicians and radiologists for the unit, originally teamed up with U.S. Healthcare as part of a research project to examine the barriers to getting regular mammograms.

Fox Chase researchers found that the number one barrier was simply physicians failing to order the tests on women age 50 and older; number two was lack of accessibility; and number three was price.

U.S. Healthcare responded to these results by educating their network physicians. Whereas only 30% of the age-eligible members had screening mammo-grams in 1987, today over 90% are being screened. The mobile van has helped overcome the accessibility barrier.

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