A hospital in the Ottawa area is trying to make mammograms more comfortable by bringing in a spa-like theme, in the hopes that it will encourage more women to get regular breast cancer screening tests.

Just over a year ago, the Kemptville District Hospital, just south of Ottawa, opened a $750,000 mammography suite that’s less clinical and perhaps a little more welcoming than most mammography clinics.

When patients come into the suite for a mammogram, they are offered a comfy bathrobe to change into, rather than the usual cloth or paper hospital gown that has the embarrassing tendency to slip open at the back.

The new digital mammography machines brought into the suite are made with molded plastic, which patients say are warmed than the older model metal devices. The clinic even takes evening appointments and patients can also call in to book an appointment directly with the hospital rather than get a referral from their doctor.

Rosalind Kinnear, the owner of Merrickville’s Spa Sans Souci, helped raise the funds needed to provide the new robes, which were brought in in December.

“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,” Kinnear told CTV Ottawa.

Technologist Karen Finner -- herself a former breast cancer patient -- says the hope is that the relaxing atmosphere at the clinic will encourage more women to come in. And it seems to be working.

“We have patients who haven't had a mammogram in 10 years because they may have had a bad experience,” Finner says.

Catherine Van Vliet, the director of patient services for the Kemptville District Hospital, says mammograms can catch breast cancer when the disease is in its earliest stages and when the hope for recovery is highest.

“With regular screening and if it's caught early, there's a 90 per cent chance of full recovery,” she says.

Sally MacInnis recently attended the clinic for her mammogram and was pleased with the welcoming atmosphere.

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

With a report from CTV Ottawa’s Joanne Schnurr