When it came to figuring out what would entice more women to come in for mammograms, administrators at Holy Family Medical Center in Des Plaines took their cue from a sister hospital and went with free manicures.
St. Joseph Hospital in Chicago's Lincoln Park, also part of Resurrection Health Care, had tried a series of incentives over the past year, including offering massages to mammogram patients, and decided manicures were the best lure.
It was just the kind of promotion Holy Family officials were looking for after recently outfitting their Women's Imaging Center with new digital imaging equipment.
"We wanted to get out to the community and tell them we are here and that we have the latest and greatest technology," said Theresa Olson, senior director of marketing for the hospital. "Everybody offers mammograms, so how do you differentiate yourself and how do you get them to pick you?"
Since Holy Family began offering free manicures each Monday in March to women who come in for mammograms, those Mondays have been almost completely booked. A few remaining spots are up for grabs on the last Monday in March, but officials expect those slots, up to 44 in a day, will be taken. That's a huge contrast to a regular day at the center, when slots are always available.
"This incentive has really worked out," said Maureen Staunton, a nurse and manager who added that women receive their free manicures after submitting to the screening. "We don't want them to ruin their nails."
Hospital officials say the lure of a free manicure, coffee and fresh baked cookies soften what can be a stressful experience, especially for first-timers.
It's been five years since Rachel Atkinson, 55, of Vernon Hills, had a mammogram but when her employer sent out an e-mail encouraging women to take the test, Atkinson decided that the timing and the manicure were exactly the incentives she needed.
After having a cup of tea, Atkinson went in for her scan and then sat down for her manicure.
"It certainly makes an unpleasant situation more pleasant," she said.
Roxann Renn, 57, a longtime resident of Des Plaines, said she likes the fact that the center caters to women.
"It makes you remember that you need to do something for yourself," said Renn as her nails were being painted.
Resurrection is underwriting some of the costs of the free manicures, which are being provided by Carmen Nicole's Wellness Spa in Park Ridge. Women who come in on another day besides Monday in March, or any day through the end of May, receive manicure kits and coupons for the spa.
Though it's not clear that such incentives will become the norm, Provena St. Joseph Medical Center in Joliet has sought to take the stress out of mammograms by holding mammography parties with snacks, trivia games, goodie bags, massages and, yes, manicures.
Some health experts might question whether bringing a party atmosphere to mammography is appropriate when it's a serious procedure that can reveal the potential of a serious illness.
But Dr. David Granato, a radiologist at Holy Family, said, "Anything that gets women to take care of themselves is a positive."
For additional information on Holy Family's mammogram program, call 847-813-3273.
Lure of free manicures brings women in for mammograms
We've upgraded our reader commenting system. Learn more about the new features.
The Baltimore Sun encourages civil dialogue related to our stories; you must register and log-in to our site in order to participate. We reserve the right to remove any user and to delete comments that violate our Terms of Service. By commenting, you agree to these terms. Please flag inappropriate comments.