Northwest NEWS

October 21, 2002

Features

Mammogram anxiety? Not at Evergreen's newly expanded breast center designed to calm nerves.

breastcenter.jpg Gene Hoefling, Director of Diagnostic Imaging, offered The Woodinville Weekly a preview tour of the Breast Center's new design. The public is invited to view it at a grand opening celebration on Nov. 14, 5:30 to 7:30 pm. Photo by Bronwyn Wilson.
  
   By Bronwyn Wilson
   Senior Staff Writer
   They don't offer mud wraps or salt glows, but the Evergreen Breast Center does provide patients with a spa-like atmosphere. "We've created a soothing and relaxing environment to ease patients' anxiety," says Dr. Kara Carlson, Breast Center Director and the driving force behind its new design.
   The Evergreen Breast Center, which provides mammography, ultrasound, biopsy and densitometry services, has recently undergone major design changes. Now under construction, the re-modeled Center at Evergreen Hospital will increase its size by 40%. The new look steers clear of the cold, impersonal environment that often pervades some hospitals. Instead, calming colors—like slate blue and gray—will refresh the eyes. Comfortable chairs, cushy carpeting, low lighting, quiet rooms, cheerful artwork and soft music will bring a peaceful element as well. For most women, medical experiences associated with breast health care can sometimes be nerve-wracking, if not inconvenient. The new design hopes to calm nerves by adding amenities like: a spacious reception area filled with bright natural light and a modern front desk made of wood and glass; a secluded waiting area that shields patients from hospital hubbub; and uplifting artwork, such as glass Lilly pads and a framed print of the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation logo.
   In addition, the Breast Center expansion comes with two more mammogram suites, making a total of six. Plus, the breast imaging facility across the street from Evergreen and another one in Redmond will also get an additional mammogram suite. The extra machines will help to reduce a woman's wait time prior to her appointment. Last spring, a woman waited four months for a screening mammogram. No longer, says Dr. Carlson. "We've doubled our capacity, so we'll decrease our wait time to come in."
   Gene Hoefling, Director of Diagnostic Imaging, says the wait time for a routine mammogram drops to 62 days and adds, "Our goal is to get that down to less than a month." He mentions that a diagnostic follow-up, a mammogram that requires further evaluation, has a wait of six days while more urgent concerns have a one-day wait.
   While pleasant aesthetics and swift scheduling play a part in reducing a patient's stress, the hospital staff's caring attitude carries even more weight. Dr. Carlson says the Evergreen staff offers a personal touch. "The technologists have a true passion to make the patient's experience a pleasurable one and we all function as a team."
   Advanced technology also helps to relieve worries by providing information quickly. A new machine called the computer aided R2 Image Checker helps radiologists detect cancer at the earliest most treatable stage. It scans x-rays, searching for anything abnormal that may be too small to be seen by the human eye. Says Hoefling, "Research tells us that the most definitive way to diagnose a suspicious area is a combination of a radiologist and a computer aided detection device." Next month, the Center will introduce another technological innovation. Flat screen monitors will be placed inside the rooms where ultrasound procedures take place. Women can watch what's happening inside their body as if they were watching a television show. If there's an abnormality, a patient will see it on the screen. Says Hoefling, "The intended purpose of this facility is to provide state-of-the-art services for women."
   When patients visited the Breast Center for a mammogram back in 1998, they were referred to a surgeon immediately if a problem was detected.
   "Anxiety would shoot up to the roof then," says Dr. Carlson, adding that abnormalities prove benign in the majority of cases.
   She began seeking ways to better serve the patient and keep worries at bay. She instituted the comprehensive screening exam, a routine screening that allows a concerned patient to discuss her film with the radiologist.
   "Now we work closely with the referring physicians and surgeons to bridge the gap between the abnormal mammogram and the final result," she says.
   The Breast Center staff didn't stop at those changes, however, and searched for other ways to improve. The idea for a new design evolved through community feedback. Patient surveys rated an overall satisfaction in the top 2% of every category except in the area of comfort and ambience. "We we're doing well on the other," Hoefling says, "but we didn't want to lose the opportunity to improve in an area where we had room." Comfort, convenience and privacy became a focus for improvement.
   "The waiting room spaces are now removed from public thoroughfares. They're quiet, comfortable and well-appointed," he says.
   Also, large private dressing rooms, a room to learn about self-breast exam, and a Breast Resource Center factors into the new design. The Resource room will supply patients with information about breast health issues, support groups and treatment through literature and Internet access.
   "In the future look for more screening facilities in the Evergreen community," Hoefling says and points out that a new mammogram screening facility will open in Redmond Nov. 1st.
   To meet the growing demand for mammography services, Evergreen has plans for more screening facilities at local sites and Hoefling suggests a familiar location, saying, "Woodinville is certainly an area of high interest."
   The completed, remodeled Evergreen Breast Center will open its doors to the public for a grand opening celebration on November 14, 2002, 5:30 pm to 7:30 pm.
   At that time, the community will have the opportunity to tour the Center, enjoy refreshments and view the new look.
   In the meantime, the Breast Center has an immediate need for volunteers to staff the women's Resource Center and is actively recruiting individuals or volunteer groups willing to assist in the resource room. If interested, contact Mary Diaderichs at (425) 899-2264.