With recent news of an elevated number of papillary thyroid cancer cases in Mooresville and a growing concern from the community, Iredell Health System hosted a thyroid ultrasound screening event at the Iredell Women’s Health Center Saturday.
“I know there has been an increase in thyroid cancer in our [Mooresville] zip code, so it’s a growing concern in our area,” said Crystal Phelps, one of the 17 patients who participated in the screenings. “I just wanted to have some clarity and be able to sleep at night.”
Kim Holland, director of operations for the Iredell Physician Network, a part of Iredell Health System, started the screening project after meeting with Susan Wind, a Mooresville resident whose teenage daughter was diagnosed with thyroid cancer. Wind has led the community in raising $110,000 to fund an ongoing Duke University study of local environmental factors in hopes of pinpointing a cause of the cancer. Considering the difficulty the town’s residents have had obtaining a medical provider’s referral for a thyroid ultrasound screening, Holland reached out to others within the Health System to organize an event that would provide individuals with a chance to be screened for a discounted rate.
“The screening was really easy. It was very accessible and easy to sign up. The ultrasound itself was quick and painless,” Phelps said. “I don’t think you can put a price on peace of mind.”
“I’ve had hypothyroid issues for a long time, and there’s always been a wonder in my mind of whether everything is as it should be,” said Ken Respess, who also underwent a screening. “With all the news here and cases of thyroid cancer, I thought, ‘Why not take advantage of the screening?’ Coming here allowed me to circumvent the difficulties I’ve had trying to have a screening, get it done, and have peace of mind.”
Mooresville’s mayor, Miles Atkins, expressed his support for the event.
“I greatly appreciate Iredell Health’s outreach on this issue,” Atkins said. “It shows our community members that the Health System cares about their health concerns and are here to help them.”
Dr. Eva Imperial, with Iredell Primary Care for Women, will be looking at each screening result once it has been reviewed by a radiologist and contacting each patient to follow-up, regardless of the results.
“We’re going to make sure that all are aware of the results,” Holland said. “People are often told that no news is good news. But no news could mean something was passed over.”
“The event was successful, 100 percent,” said Dr. Imperial. “All of the people who had ultrasounds scheduled came. We don’t want the results to fall through the cracks, so that’s why we’re committed as an office that everybody that came today gets their results. That is our purpose.”
Iredell hopes to hold more screening events in the future and will share that information with the public as it becomes available.
“We know there is a desire from the community for cost-effective screenings,” said Ed Rush, CEO of Iredell Health System. “As Iredell County’s only nonprofit health system, we are in a position to help, and that’s exactly what we plan to do.”