Anonymous $1M donation fast tracks Prescott BreastCare Center
Thanks to an anonymous $1 million donation from a local couple, the BreastCare Center will open Oct. 1, a good five to 10 years ahead of schedule.
The center, located at Yavapai Regional Medical Center East, offers state-of-the-art breast imaging capabilities, ultrasound and biopsies for women and men.
"With the economy the way it is, we thought it would take five to 10 years to build," said Tim Barnett, YRMC president and CEO. "A local couple approached the (YRMC) management with the offer, we put together a solid proposal, and they funded it for $1 million. It's pretty touching to have people like that - they don't want to take any credit."
While the large donation did not cover the total $3.2 million cost of the 6,000-square-foot building, it did accelerate the plans to build, he said.
Nancy Ledoyen is one of 14 "clinical navigators" in Arizona, a special role in use at many world-class cancer centers nationwide. Her job at the BreastCare Center is to guide, educate and counsel patients and families through testing, diagnosis and treatment options.
Ledoyen has 27 years' experience working in oncology, mostly in California as a surgical nurse, in chemotherapy treatment and as a director of a cancer center. Most recently she was in charge of the chemotherapy department at the Mayo Clinic in Scottsdale.
"This is my second time opening a program. It gives me the chance to be creative and to get back to patient care," she said recently at a media open house.
The BreastCare Center is not involved in the actual treatment of breast cancer, since there are several services that do so in Prescott and Prescott Valley, Ledoyen said. The center's goals include getting women in for screening whether they're showing symptoms or not, and providing "one-stop coordination" with a care plan that involves all aspects of treatment and care.
Ledoyen said early detection is still the best way to save a woman's life. The center is user-friendly, with a focus on making routine mammograms convenient - patients can be in and out in 30 minutes.
Breast care focuses mainly on women; however, four men in the Prescott area received a diagnosis of breast cancer this past year. Ledoyen said male patients at the center won't have to wait in the same "lounge" area as women. They have their own "man cave" and consultation room.
Next door to the "man cave" is a larger consultation room accessible for patients or couples, where doctors can show images and explain findings in a private area.
Most patients won't see Ledoyen if their screenings are normal, she said. With the digital mammography machines, technicians can bring up the old and new films to compare findings. If everything is good, patients get dressed and leave.
If the technician sees something suspicious or of concern, Ledoyen may be part of the consultation and may set up an ultrasound or stereotactic biopsy. She will follow through with the patient for as long as the patient wants.
The stereotactic biopsy machine provides a precise positioning system using X-rays and coordinates to target and retrieve tissues samples. The technician looks at the samples before the patient leaves the table.
The center also has a room dedicated to the breast ultrasound procedure that can determine whether a lump is a noncancerous fluid-filled cyst or a potentially cancerous solid mass.
"A mammogram is still the best," Ledoyen said. "But as we age, tissue can look very different when it is squished."
That's when an ultrasound or an MRI can help radiologists. The center has an MRI "suite" of six rooms set aside for future equipment, controls, dressing and holding rooms.
"This is the next dream in the vision," Barnett said.
Doctors may want a breast MRI for patients with strong family history of breast cancer, or perhaps with lesions close to the chest wall. He said Arizona has a couple of mobile breast MRI machines, but no fixed equipment. This would be the first.
Barnett said he is committed to bringing the breast MRI machine to the center within the next five to seven years. He estimates the cost will run about $2 million.
Off the reception area is a conference room where physicians, specialists, caseworkers and breast cancer patients can meet together and work out a comprehensive individualized treatment plan.
"We get all the people necessary for a healthy dialogue. It keeps it a dynamic process for treatment," Barnett said.
They can review research and data in the resource library or through wireless internet access on a computer. This coordinated care model shortens the wait time between screening, diagnosis and treatment. The room is also available for community education programs.
Ledoyen said she helps keep the dialogue open for patients wanting alternative care or a blending of traditional medical care and alternative care that can complement the immune system, for example. Her mission is to help patients understand their treatment options and to be available to listen.
She would like to see the center eventually provide post-surgery mastectomy patients with correctly sized undergarments they can purchase prior to surgery. She said most patients don't realize that Medicare pays for six specialized bras a year.
A ribbon-cutting for the BreastCare Center is set for Oct. 1. For more information, or to schedule an appointment, call 928-771-5686.
Sue Tone is a reporter for the Prescott Valley Tribune.