The Kemptville District Hospital south of Ottawa is trying to make mammograms more comfortable by bringing in a spa-like theme.  Breast cancer rates are higher in this part of Ontario.  The hope is that a new approach could end up saving lives.

     Jennifer McKibbon was at the hospital today for her first mammogram.  She was nervous. “It's a good idea for everyone to be proactive about their health and take advantage of the facilities we have here,” she says.

   McKibbon is in good hands.  Her medical radiation technologist is a breast cancer survivor.  While McKibbon changed into a comfy bath robe, technologist Karen Finner checked in on her next patient.

“I had breast cancer 13 years ago,” says Finner. “I'm a success story.  I think there's a lot of success stories out there.”

   The Kemptville District Hospital is trying to boost that success rate. Just over a year ago, it opened a $750-thousand dollar mammography suite, which is less cold and clinical and more welcoming. Now it's now trying to get the message out that mammograms can save lives.  “We have patients who haven't had a mammogram in 10 years because they may have had a bad experience,” says Karen Finner.

   Those bad experiences have meant fewer women in this area were getting mammograms -- and breast cancer rates were going up.

   “The last statistics we received, we were concerned that breast cancer was about 8% higher within the Ottawa area,” says  Catherine van Vliet, the director of patient services for the Kemptville District Hospital.  “Knowing that, as well as knowing that with regular screening and if it's caught early, there's a 90% chance of full recovery.”

 So, with the new mammography suite comes new idea: warm digital machines, evening appointments and comfy bathrobes.  And who better to help with a spa-like atmosphere than a spa owner.  Rosalind Kinnear, with Merrickville’s Spa Sans Souci raised funds to provide the robes. “We jumped on board because at the spa, we're all about comfort and making our clients relaxed. I thought that would be a good fit,” says Kinnear.

   It fit for Sally MacInnis, who had her mammogram at the Kemptville Hospital earlier today.

   “I think it's really important especially for people who are nervous,” says MacInnis. “The health system terrifies a lot of people so we need to make  everything as comfortable and  as inviting as possible.”

   Jennifer McKibbon says the spa-like touches are nice.  She hopes it'll encourage more women to get tested.  “We have lost quite a few lovely ladies in our community,” says McKibbon, “and I just think it's important (to get tested).