By Greg Klein STAFF WRITER
---- — With its equipment close to being outdated and its facility in need of an enlargement, Bassett Medical Center began a $1.5 million fundraising campaign for a new Women’s Imaging Center on Aug. 9 at the Otesaga.
The money will pay for several new pieces of equipment for breast cancer screenings including a 2D full field digital mammography machine, an advanced 3D (Tomosynthesis) machine, an ultrasound machine that won’t be shared with another department and new stereotactic biopsy equipment. Currently the center does not have a 3D machine and shares the ultrasound equipment with the gynecology department.
In addition, the money will fund a nurse navigator position, update the computer system needed to provide quick results and notifications, and help renovate the Women’s Imaging Center on the T2 level of the clinic building. The nurse navigator would be an ambassador for the program, greeting all patients and helping them through all the stages in the department, from examination through diagnosis.
The Bassett plans call for the new equipment to be purchased and the center to be renovated by December of 2014.
“We are ready for creating not just good quality service, but a great experience for people when they are going through a tough time,” Scott Bonderoff, vice president for Patient Services, said.
According to Bonderoff, the technology in radiology changes and needs upgrades as quickly, if not quicker, than any other field in medicine.
“To give you an example, when I started here in 2006, we had a very good imaging machine. It gave you 16 slices per rotation, as we say in the terminology. Two years later, we upgraded to a machine that was 64 slices. Now we are shopping for one that does 256 slices. So you see the equipment we use is very quickly out of date,” he said.
In addition to the machines, the intention of the new center is to provide a warm, friendly environment for women while they are going through a difficult and scary time in their lives, said Caridad Fuertes, the doctor who is the Breast Image Section Chief.
Fuertes showed a slide presentation to about 150 Bassett officials and supporters who attended the campaign launch. The slides contrasted the current waiting area with her vision for a private waiting room that “communicates harmony and tranquility and reduces the stress and anxiety inherent to this kind of health care.”
She said that making a good first impression is crucial to the project, and that she hoped to be able to give patients an area where they can relax.
“Imagine having this area where a robbed woman can sit around and wait,” she said.
Bassett CEO William Streck joked that after seeing Fuertes’ slides, that the Friends of Bassett might need to raise more money.
“We thought the total cost of the project would be $2.5 to $3 million, but that was before I saw Cari’s decorating slides,” he said.
“It is essential for us to get that equipment and important to have the kind of place that Cari describes,” he added.
Bonderoff said that the radiology department at Bassett has a great reputation and almost unheard of numbers when it comes to safety reviews.
“We just had a Mammography Quality Standards Act review, which is the federal inspection, and we had zero infractions,” he said. “That is highly unusual.”
“Not only do we see it, but so do these outside regulatory agencies,” he continued.
Added Streck: “We had five departments inspected and they did not find one infraction in any of them. Not only is that unusual, but it is almost unhealthy to the job safety of the regulators, because it usually makes them look like they are not doing their jobs. But that is how excellent our (radiology departments have) been.”
The money will be raised by the Friends of Bassett group as well as the center’s board of directors and in-house fundraising department.
“There is a lot of enthusiasm for this at the Friend’s of Bassett Board,” Streck said, “and also a lot of enthusiasm among the administration.”
Added Bonderoff, “In my 12 or 13 years at Bassett, this is probably the most exciting project we have been able to offer.”