When Nancy White moved to Billings to take a job at St. Vincent Healthcare, she brought an unusual bit of baggage with her - a mammography machine.
The 4-year-old machine will be installed at the Crow-Northern Cheyenne Hospital in Crow Agency, where it will replace a 20-year-old unit that had become outdated and unreliable.
"They would book women, and then it would break," said White, a cancer program coordinator for St. Vincent.
The newer mammogram machine came from White's previous employer, Saint Mary's Health Care in Grand Rapids, Mich.
Officials at St. Mary's agreed to donate the $250,000 piece of equipment to the Indian Health Service hospital because the Michigan hospital was upgrading to a newer mammography system, White said.
White knew the Crow-Northern Cheyenne Hospital needed a better mammography unit because her husband, Thomas White, is a physician there.
"Our current machine is well-used and near the end of its life cycle," Dr. White said. "This will help us well into the future."
Dr. White went to work in Crow Agency about a year ago. Nancy White found out about the aging mammography machine on a visit to the hospital while she was still working in Grand Rapids.
After her visit, a chance conversation at Saint Mary's led to the donation.
"It really took one ask," she said. "It was very simple - three sentences."
The St. Vincent Healthcare Foundation paid to ship the unit and for costs associated with taking it offline in Grand Rapids and bringing it online in Crow Agency.
"We knew the need through our long history of working with them," said Doris Barta, director of the foundation's grants division. "A lot of these women wouldn't (have mammograms) if they couldn't have them in their own community. That 50-mile trek or more to Billings is too far."
Many Northern Cheyenne and Crow women have mammograms during an annual health fair put on at the Crow-Northern Cheyenne Hospital in partnership with St. Vincent Healthcare.
Some 200 to 350 women typically attend the fair, where they can listen to presentations about health issues as well as make appointments for mammograms and Pap tests.
Topics this year include nutrition, skin care, addiction, cancer and domestic violence.
Art is also incorporated into the event, with participants painting coffee mugs while they listen to speakers.
"The theory behind the cup art is if you paint a cup while you're hearing a health message, the cup will remind you later of the health message you heard," said Diana Sorensen, a grants assistant at the St. Vincent foundation.
Contact Diane Cochran at email@example.com or 657-1287.