Clinic offers new approach to mammograms

HOOVER – Monika Tataria opened an imaging clinic with a vision of treating women “the way they deserve to be treated.”

Camellia Women’s Imaging, located at 2068 Valleydale Road in Hoover, has been open since November and hosted a ribbon cutting with the Hoover Area Chamber of Commerce on Dec. 7.

“Mammograms are a dream come true in the medical world,” Tataria said because the tests lead to a reduction of at least 30 percent in breast cancer fatalities, but she noted some women do not undergo the procedure because it can be unpleasant. “It’s crazy that we have a test that is so good but people don’t get it because of the process.”

Camellia Women’s Imaging is Tataria’s effort to make the process much more patient-friendly.

The building that houses the clinic was completely renovated with comfort in mind. Instead of the typical sterile hospital feel, Camellia feels more like a spa.

Parking is offered directly in front of the freestanding building, luxury robes are offered to patients instead of awkward paper strips, patients get their own lockers and waiting rooms feature modern décor.

With typical mammograms, women can be left worrying for days or even weeks about the results, but Tataria, a fellowship-trained breast imager, reads scans while patients wait.

“I think communication is important with patients; that’s why I discuss results that day,” she said. “I think anxiety causes women to avoid mammograms. I talk to each woman at the end of the process.”

If needed, biopsies can be performed at Camellia, the same day in some cases. If Tataria needs to refer the patient, the staff coordinates with doctors and sets up appointments.

Tataria studied at the University of Pennsylvania and Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, then Stanford University for her surgery residency.

After deciding on radiology as a career path, Tataria went back to WUSTL for a radiology residency before completing a breast imaging fellowship at the University of Alabama Birmingham.

Tataria’s husband, Keir Cooper, is from the Birmingham area, and the couple wanted to return.

Tataria worked at private practices for a number of years and was inspired by the approach to women’s imaging she saw at the Ellen Shaw de Paredes Institute for Women’s Imaging in Richmond, Virginia.

“I figured out how I wanted to run my place,” Tataria said. “I wanted to minimize women’s anxiety. I wanted to treat women the way they deserve to be treated.”

The staff at Camellia also includes Michele Langford, a technologist with several years of experience who specializes in biopsies; Marin Zanotti, an office manager with a background in customer service; and Michelle Smith, a technologist who performs bone density scans and helps with patient flow.

Tataria said she and Cooper decided on Hoover because it has a large population but most medical services are north in Birmingham.

“There are a lot of busy women in this area,” Tataria said. “Those are the type women that will benefit from this.”