Inspiring Stories

Methodist Mammographer Enjoys Making Uncomfortable Situations Comfortable for Patients

Published: Oct. 24, 2023

When Lenni Leaverton arrived early for her mammogram in August at the Methodist Women’s Hospital Medical Office Building, she met a mammographer she’ll never forget.

“She was just extra caring,” Lenni said. “And you could tell that she loved what she did. Her heart was every bit in it.”

She added: “It was so sweet because she called me ‘Dolly.’”

And for Lenni, that name held special significance.


Putting Patients at Ease

Rita Wilcox started working at Methodist as a mammographer in 1994.

Throughout her nearly 30 years, she’s always believed in treating people the way she’d want to be treated.

The seasoned professional understands that a mammogram can be uncomfortable, but it’s necessary for many patients to receive one yearly. Wilcox tries to strike up conversations with her patients to help put them at ease and get their minds off the procedure.

“Women come across situations that are stressful and trying, so you just have to put everything out there to make it as comfortable or tolerable as you can,” she said.

Lenni quickly realized that Wilcox’s compassion shined through her actions.

“She was such a comforting presence,” Lenni said. “When she talked to you, it was like she was singing.” 

Lenni’s visit in August wasn’t her first experience at Methodist – she’s also a patient of Carolyn Maud Doherty, MD. Lenni travels two hours from her home near Sioux City, Iowa, to the Methodist Women’s Hospital campus because she knows she’ll receive quality care each time. 

In addition to the calming presence of Wilcox, Lenni noted that she likes the setup of the imaging room and that there’s always a calming picture on the wall for her to look at.

mammogram room


Changes in Technology

Over the years, technology has continued to change for mammograms. Each time a new technology is introduced, Wilcox is up for the challenge of learning the new way of doing things.

“I didn’t think an old dog could learn new tricks, but I have,” Wilcox jested.

She believes that it’s gotten easier for patients to receive their imaging. While the process of a breast compression hasn’t changed, the design of the machine has improved to make the experience more comfortable for the patient.

Wilcox also believes 3D mammography has enhanced patients’ and providers’ abilities to see more details within the images.


“Doing the Right Thing”

While Lenni was surprised that Wilcox called her “Dolly,” Wilcox didn’t think anything of it because words like “Doll,” “Honey,” and “Sweetie” seem to roll off her tongue when she’s working with patients.

But this time her light-hearted language had a different meaning when Lenni shared that “Dolly” was her childhood nickname. Wilcox said that Lenni’s reaction reminded her why she enjoys her job.

“I feel like I’m doing the right thing,” she said. “I’m going above and beyond to treat people like that. It’s nice to make them feel as comfortable as you can.”

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About the Author

Anthony Robinson, a content strategist for Methodist Health System, joined the marketing team after spending over five years as a college athletics public relations professional. He enjoys being able to use his writing ability to tell compelling stories that embody The Meaning of Care

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