MORGANTOWN, Va. (WV News) – While he touts the unique features of the LUCAS mobile screening unit, Albert Wright, president and CEO of WVU Health System, ultimately hopes it is not necessary.
âI hope we don’t find anything,â Wright said. “But, if we do, I hope we can step in and save lives.”
LUCAS, acronym for Lung Cancer Screening, is the first unit of its kind in the country. The semi-trailer-sized unit will specifically travel through 42 counties across the state that do not have access to the CT scans needed to detect lung cancer. The first stop for LUCAS will be on August 23 in Pendleton County.
âWe live and work in a state with many health challenges, and cancer is one of the biggest,â Wright said. âIf we are to be able to effectively detect cancers at an early stage, we need to make sure we provide a mechanism to do so. “
Unlike other mobile units, LUCAS is the first to have its own generator and therefore does not need to use a separate power source.
âOne of our responsibilities at the Cancer Institute is to rethink the way we deliver care,â said Hannah Hazard-Jenkins, director of the WVU Cancer Institute. “It’s important to have things like that, because we’re the ones who go to places instead of asking or demanding that people come to us.”
She would like LUCAS to become a model for other areas.
âTraditionally, mobile units like this go to a hospital and plug into a power source, but the patient still had to go to the hospital,â Hazard-Jenkins said. “With this, we hope to go to some of the rural communities in the state that need it the most.”
About 77% of lung cancers are diagnosed at an advanced stage in West Virginia, and the hope is that LUCAS will give WVU Medicine the opportunity to change that.
âPlatforms like this not only represent lung cancer screening, but they also champion preventive care, screening in general,â Hazard-Jenkins said. “When people embrace and subscribe to this, you also allow them to experience self-care.”
Work has started significantly on LUCAS in the past 12-18 months, Hazard-Jenkins said. In addition to being a projection platform, the mobile up will contain an educational platform.
âFor those who are current smokers, we’ll talk to them about the associated risks,â Hazard-Jenkins said.
The unit will be able to screen 20 patients per day. If demand is higher, arrangements will be made for LUCAS to stay overnight and continue screening the next day. There will be at least three people with LUCAS at all times: the driver, the worker doing the scans, and one person driving a separate truck with the generator.
âThere is a lot of pride in those who put this in place, and a lot of pride in understanding the needs of West Virginia,â said Hazard-Jenkins.
Wright is proud of the work accomplished and of what it can mean to the state.
“Since 42 of the 55 counties do not have CT lung cancer screening capabilities, it’s a chance for us to go to those communities and take away any excuses they have – they might be nervous or not being able to travel, âWright said. noted. “We’re going to go to those counties and sift through it.”
To learn more about LUCAS, visit wvucancer.org/lucas or call 304-293-2730 to speak to a staff member.