A recent accreditation survey demonstrates once again that MCMC’s
Breast Care Center is a truly unique and comprehensive education, support
and care resource for area women.
Overheard recently in a parking lot at Mid-Columbia Medical Center was
one side of a phone conversation during which a distinguished gentleman
was enthusiastically describing to the recipient of his call how impressed
he was with the program he had just thoroughly reviewed.
The man praising the care team, facilities and quality of care being provided
was Dr. Larry D. Dillon, from the National Accreditation Program for Breast
Centers for the Commission on Cancer. On the listening end was his home
office in Chicago. The program he was raving about? The unique Breast
Care Center at MCMC.
Not long after that conversation, the Breast Care Center received its three-year
re-accreditation, demonstrating MCMC meets or exceeds the national organization’s
highest standards for breast care centers.
It wasn’t the first for the program. In fact, in 2010 MCMC became
the first hospital in Oregon with a nationally accredited Breast Care
Center, which also earned re-accreditation in 2013.
“Getting the accreditation is really rare; it’s an arduous
process,” said Dr. Kerry Proctor, medical director of the program
at MCMC. “We’re one of only seven hospitals in the state that
Accreditation puts the Breast Care Center at MCMC on par with hospitals
in larger cities in the state, such as Portland, Salem, and Bend. “Accreditation
is an indication that you can come here and receive a standard of care
that is on the same level of other accredited centers, whether you are
in Toledo or Austin or Los Angeles or New York or The Dalles,” Dr.
MCMC’s program offers a comprehensive and multidisciplinary approach
to breast health. By integrating screening, early diagnosis, patient advocacy,
and treatment,the Breast Care Center offers important resources for women
along the entire health spectrum.
“We are here for all women, those with both benign and malignant
breast disease as well as healthy women; education and preventive care
is a large component of what we do,” said Dr. Proctor.
The Center for Breast Care is “not a place,” adds Dr. Proctor,
“but is a collaboration of physicians, other health professionals
and staff and an understanding of how women should be cared for in an
organized and efficient manner.
“It encompasses the hospital’s imaging department and educational
programs, and it involves radiologists, pathologists, and surgeons in
addition to medical and radiation oncologists.”
The Breast Care Center strives to offer women throughout the Mid-Columbia
all the care and services they need without having to leave their hometown.
Notes from Dr. Dillon’s survey indicate that mission is being accomplished:
“I would strongly encourage the NAPBC to recognize that we have
a relatively small institution in a city that is very small but has the
expertise and commitment to deliver excellent medical and surgical care
to patients with breast disease,” the physician wrote.
“Throughout the survey he did repeat many times that we are on par
with the big guys,” added Symantha McClennan, data management specialist
and clinical trials associate at Celilo Cancer Center. “He was impressed
with the caliber of our physicians, with the caliber of various people
we have involved in the program, and the quality of medicine we are able
to provide to our patients out here in what some people, especially outsiders,
consider the middle of nowhere.”
Breast centers receive accreditation by demonstrating they “meet
the needs of breast patients by providing multidisciplinary, high-quality,
patient-centered care,” —more specifically by adhering to
a 78-page NAPBC Standards Manual. The standards cover a variety of areas,
including leadership, clinical, research, community, and education. The
range of clinical standards covers everything from what procedures are
performed, to how reports are written, to what personnel are on staff.
Preparing for the re-accreditation process is difficult and ongoing, as
industry standards are constantly changing. Every year, MCMC’s Breast
Care Center receives a revised standards manual and must make necessary
changes in order to maintain accreditation. “It’s an evolving
game. They twist the screws tighter all the time, but in a good way,”
said Dr. Proctor. “The goal is to make this be top-quality care,
so we are on par with anything in the country; we’re not just squirreled
away in the Gorge doing 1950s medicine.”
Despite the difficulty, MCMC passed re-accreditation without a hitch —
with no deficiencies on the report.
At the core of the Breast Care Center is a high standard of care and dedication
to patients. “We really do take them from mammograms and initial
diagnosis all the way through to the survivorship part (for patients diagnosed
with breast cancer),” said McClennan.
Assisting in the process are two “nurse navigators” who hold
patients’ hands —figuratively and, at times, literally —throughout
their entire process, discussing options, answering “what ifs,”
and providing moral support.
Patients benefit from an array of unique services and specialty care. All
of the Breast Care Center’s mammography technicians and sonographers
have received specialized breast imaging certifications. The team’s
board-certified staff of radiologists includes the only physician in the
Gorge with specialized fellowship training in breast imaging, Andrew Boyer, M.D..
In addition, breast surgeon Caitlin McCarthy, M.D., is currently pursuing
advanced certification in breast imaging, biopsy, and partial radiation.
MCMC offers patients access to estheticians and wig designers, and the
team is working to provide patients with access to a local prosthetics
designer and seamstress. Vouchers also enable patients to access services
at Water’s Edge Spa.
If cost is an issue, vouchers are available for free mammograms, and Celilo
House is a cost-free resource for people who need a place to stay while
The Breast Care Center team strives to provide care tailored to each individual.
“No two patients are alike,” added Dr. Proctor. “Some
people want yoga and spa and some people want absolutely the most aggressive
treatment possible. You can get whatever you want, because we have it
Outreach teams are also actively working in the community. “One of
the (NAPBC) standards is that the breast center reaches out into the community
to try to serve underserved populations, whether they are patients who
have no financial means to get a mammogram, or are just too scared or
too busy,” Dr. Proctor said.
Dr. Dillon recognized the community outreach program as “a strong
complement to this medical community, which does not have the resources
that many larger institutions (possess).”
Education is also an important component of the program. On Oct. 4 at 7
p.m., members of the Breast Care Center team will lead will a lecture
at Water’s Edge for Breast Cancer Awareness Month. A panel including
Drs. McCarthy and Proctor will be speaking about steps that can be taken
to help prevent cancer (see the Well Aware calendar).