By allowing ads to appear on this site, you support the local businesses who, in turn, support great journalism.
Doctors Hospital offering evening appointments
DHM breast cacncer team
Doctors Hospital of Manteca CEO Dr. Murali Naidu is shown with the hospital breast health care team.

The COVID-19 pandemic has created a potentially deadly side effect. Many women are avoiding screenings for breast cancer.

And at the same time women that have children and are trying to juggle distance learning with other family obligations and often contorted work schedules if they are employed can’t fit in a screening appointment during normal office hours.

It is why Doctors Hospital of Manteca is working to make sure women understand how safe it is to secure critical mammograms in the era of COVID-19 as part of their annual outreach spotlighting Breast Cancer Awareness Month in October. They also are offering next day appointments for screening and extended hours to 7 p.m. every Tuesday in October.

“It takes 15 to 20 minutes for the screening,” noted registered nurse Dawnis Villegas.

She is the dedicated breast health coordinator serving as an advocate for patients at the hospital’s Certified Breast Health Center that is part of the Women’s Imaging Center.

Villegas noted that early detection with breast cancer typically equates to better health outcomes.

As far as how safe it is to have a screening, Doctors Hospital of Manteca CEO Dr. Murali Naidu points to the fact that not only does the hospital thanks to its rigorous procedures have a significantly better record as the community as a whole when it comes to people not contracting COVID-19 on its premises but the breast health center is separate area.   

Villegas noted every contact point is sanitized between tests. It is part of the overall hospital commitment to make sure every precaution is being taken, combining strong infection prevention processes, staff training, testing, and ample supply of personal protective equipment. Doctors Hospital of Manteca, in short, is committed to universal protection and safety for every person who walks through their doors.

Villegas is hoping that message is understood loud and clear by women that it is safe to have a breast screening given how early detection is critical. She noted one recent patient who, as a mother of three children, had breast cancer detected and is now pursuing treatment. Had the patient waited longer she could be facing a different potential outcome.

Villegas noted mothers often put the health of their children first and don’t address their own needs. In doing so they could place their children at risk of losing their mother.

In her role Villegas serves as a point of contact for patients, a coach who educates them on the procedure and what to expect, and as a navigator if they have breast cancer to make sure appointments are made and that all questions are answered.

In addition she can be contacted by patients “that want to talk”. That is in addition to the hospital starting a breast cancer support group.

She can also refer patients to hospital staff that can help them seek out assistance if they don’t have insurance.

“In our Certified Breast Health Center, we want to make sure our patients feel comfortable when coming in for their mammograms,” Villegas said. “We are doing everything we can to make sure they feel safe. “Women tend to put the needs of others before themselves, but the last thing that should be neglected is their health.”

Dr. Naidu noted Doctors Hospital for both its screening and mammograms has earned the same level of certification for screening and mammograms as Stanford and the University of San Francisco.

Comprehensive screening and diagnostic services are available in the Women’s Imaging Center including mammography, breast ultrasound, breast biopsies and breast coil MRI. The center provides a continuum of services under one roof, providing ease and accessibility to patients. The goal is to provide prompt and accurate answers from when a lump is detected to when a diagnosis is provided, helping alleviate stress and anxiety for the patient.

Annual mammograms are an important part of a woman’s wellness routine, generally beginning at age 40.

If you would like to schedule a mammogram, or have questions about the breast health procedure, call (209) 239-8370 or visit  


To contact Dennis Wyatt, email