Spotlight On Mammo Tech Maureen Donegan

Mammography technologist Maureen Donegan talks about how she approaches a mammogram and what make ColumbiaDoctors/NewYork Presbyterian Imaging exceptional.

October 3, 2019
Mammography technician in front of mammography machine.
Maureen Donegan, mammography supervisor 

Maureen Donegan joined Columbia Radiology 34 years ago as a mammography technician.  She’s now the mammography supervisor at ColumbiaDoctors/NewYork-Presbyterian Imaging in midtown Manhattan.  Maureen and her team perform between 45 and 60 mammograms a day, and she considers it part of her responsibility to make sure her patients have a good experience.

What do you like most about your job?

I really enjoy being at Columbia because of the outstanding commitment and care we have for our patients.  That includes our physicians, staff, and administrators.  It’s an amazing team to work with and I know the patients feel it too.

Mammograms can be painful.  What’s your approach to patients who might be feeling discomfort?

Communication is very important during a mammogram. I tell patients to let me know if they are feeling discomfort or pain, and I have strategies that I can implement to make them more comfortable without compromising the exam. I let them know we’re working on this together. I have learned that I can get a lot more compression when I talk to my patients.  

The last thing I want is a patient walking out of here saying, “I’ll never have a mammogram again,” or, “I’ll never come back here again.” It’s very important that they have a good experience.

Do you provide 3D mammograms?

We’re state-of-the-art.  All our mammograms are 3D mammograms, which are covered by insurance under New York State law.  We consider 3D mammography the standard of care.

What question do patients most often ask you during their exam?

The most common question is “When will I get my results?” 

We give immediate results, which is not that common in New York City.  Most of the time, patients have to wait a week or so after their test to get results from their physician. 

How do immediate results work during a breast imaging appointment?

Our radiologists read the exams during the appointment, so patients can leave with a report. If there’s something to discuss, one of our radiologists will have a face-to-face discussion with the patient before she leaves.  And if she needs additional imaging or a biopsy, she will leave with both her results and her next appointment.

The patient’s doctor will get a more detailed report as well, but we don’t want patients to have to wait to take next steps if there are any.

So you do more than mammography?

We’re a full-service breast center.  We do breast ultrasound, MRI, and needle biopsies in addition to mammography.  Our radiologists give a lot of second opinions on tests that were performed somewhere else, and patients schedule their follow up appointments with us.

Eighty percent of our patients are repeat patients. We care about them and make sure they have a nice experience. And if somebody needs to be scheduled quickly, we make sure it happens.  They’re like our family.