By Jeff Noble, Staff Writer
Stressing a new level of care and comfort, along with a close-to-home location, Baptist Health Breast Care opened its doors Wednesday afternoon.
Located on the third floor of Baptist Health Corbin, the dedicated breast care center offers state-of-the-art technology and services tailored to patients.
Speaking before the ribbon cutting, Baptist Health Corbin President/CEO Larry Gray said the breast center’s opening is a quantum leap forward in serving southeastern Kentucky and northern Tennessee.
“We set a strategic goal a year ago to provide comprehensive breast health care. We’ve put the pieces together, not just about being close to home, but also to have care that’s patient-centered. Years ago, services were designed to make it easier for us in health care. Now, we have this facility designed with the patient’s point of view, by bringing the services to the patient,” Gray remarked to the audience.
For many patients in the region, having the breast center in Corbin marks a shorter trip and less aggravation in scheduling an appointment for such life-saving services.
“Breast cancer is so treatable if detected early. To get that treatment, a lot of folks have had to go to Lexington or Knoxville. When you have to travel, it can be a problem. You have to take off from work, make arrangements to get there and back, or make arrangements with family members on scheduling. It’s amazing how many women don’t have a mammogram because they’re inconvenienced by making a trip to Lexington or Knoxville. Now, everything here is under one roof,” said Mark Steely, Baptist Health Executive Director of Business Development and Diagnostic Services.
He added the vision of having the breast center became a reality in December, and when space in the hospital became open this February, work on constructing the center began.
“There’s been a lot of work getting this ready, and now we’re ready to serve patients in a timely manner. Once we get everything fine-tuned here, we’d like to expand, have reconstructive surgery done here, and make it more complete as we go along,” Steely said.
“Part of what we wanted was to offer our communities a service that’s comparable to a facility in a big city. We think we’ve offered a pretty good facility for this community,” said William Lay, the center’s Director of Imaging.
Baptist Health Breast Care offers three-dimensional digital mammography, which allows for improved cancer detections, reduced false positives and better visualization, which the center said makes for less anxiety for the patient.
A big tool in the center’s arsenal is the latest technology in digital mammography and 3-D breast imaging. It uses tomography, a method of making a three-dimensional image of the body, through the use of penetrating waves, which results in a tomogram. As a result, 3-D digital mammography gives a clearer, more accurate view of the breast, allowing the physician to pinpoint the size, shape and location of abnormalities more effectively.
Another tool being used is stereotactic breast biopsy, a safe, relatively painless, non-deforming and cost-effective alternative to biopsy surgery for a patient with an abnormal mammogram. As a result, there is no tissue loss, little or no scarring, and recovery time is minimal.
To target a specific area of concern found on the mammogram, an ultrasound of the breast is used. Ultrasound helps to distinguish between fluid-filled sacs, or cysts, and solid masses. It is an important tool because ultrasound helps tell the difference between benign and cancerous tumors.
The center’s breast MRI can be used to detect breast cancer or breast abnormalities by capturing multiple cross-sectional pictures. Those pictures are captured top to bottom, front to back, and side to side, and is usually performed when your doctor needs more information than what a mammogram, ultrasound or clinical breast exam can provide.
In some situations, like when a woman has a high breast cancer risk, a breast MRI may be used with mammograms as a cancer screening tool.
Officials say the breast care center was built and designed with the patient’s care and comfort in mind, and a tour of the facility brought that fact to life.
Starting with check-in and registration and an area where the densitometry procedure is done, the rooms, furnishings and equipment were tailored to make the patient feel at ease.
The patient waiting room is a classic example. With its fireplace, flat-screen TV and living room decor, the room is next to where patients get dressed in private changing rooms, and gives them a relaxed feeling when they enter.
Staff members at the center also said significant use of warm colors, softer room lighting and abundant natural light were used in rooms such as the Ultrasound Suite, the Mammography Suite and the Procedure Suite.
“We wanted to change it from a clinical setting to a home setting,” Lay pointed out during the tour.
To tie in the comfort and latest in care, a team approach is used at the breast center, which offers multiple services in one location for the patient. It consists of Dr. Barbara Michna, a primary surgeon who specializes in breast surgery, along with radiologists, sonographers, registered nurses, technologists and a nurse navigator.
Steely added, “By using the nurse navigator program, we’ve developed an atmosphere that focuses on assisting our patients with the follow-through process on their health care experiences in life.”