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Thu, April 18

YRMC BreastCare Center exudes comfort at 'critical time in someone's life'

Julie Bender in the consult room at the center.<br /><br /><!-- 1upcrlf2 -->Les Stukenberg/The Daily Courier

Julie Bender in the consult room at the center.<br /><br /><!-- 1upcrlf2 -->Les Stukenberg/The Daily Courier

Walk into the natural-stone, curved lobby of the BreastCare Center on the Yavapai Regional Medical Center's east campus and you will quickly notice a wall plaque with a profound message:

"Count Your Smiles instead of your tears, Count your courage instead of your fears."

The decoration is just one of many small, yet intentional touches intended to assure this 7,000 square-foot, $3.7 million diagnostic facility opened in 2011 is a serene and soothing space for all comers, whether it is to obtain a routine diagnostic screening or to be delivered news no one wants to hear.

Belief in the need for this addition inspired an anonymous $1 million gift, one that accelerated the opening of its doors by at least five years, hospital officials said.

Everything about this place is designed to inspire confidence and comfort, with nurses, radiologists, appointment clerks and volunteers all skilled in offering professional, personal and confidential care to the more than 6,800 patients who crossed the threshold last year.

In 2014, the BreastCare Center performed 6,799 mammograms, 266 breast MRI studies, 1,189 ultrasounds and 174 stereotactic biopsies.

"Our goal is to make the atmosphere peaceful, calm and welcoming," said the center's Clinical Navigator Julie Bender, a registered nurse.

The décor is earth tones with modern art and landscape paintings lining the hallways that lead to well-appointed rooms where women go to obtain a diagnostic screening from one of two, two-dimensional mammogram machines; by the end of the year the center expects to add a three-dimensional digital mammogram machine. The center also has a breast-specific Magnetic Resonance Imaging system (MRI), an ultrasound room and a private suite where various types of biopsies are performed. The center has eight radiologists able to interpret mammograms and perform ultrasound biopsies, after which they can then electronically report results to a patient's doctor. Three are qualified to interpret the MRIs and perform stereotactic biopsies.

By the new year, the center will also offer bone density scans.

Outside the screening rooms is a warming closet that contains heated blankets and stuffed neck warmers for those undergoing procedures. Muted lighting and soothing music is offered throughout the center.

The dressing rooms and adjoining waiting area in the rear portion of the center is designed as a formal parlor. Gold and maroon-corded brocade drapes offer privacy for the handful of dressing areas, including one that is handicap accessible. The small rooms all contain a small armoire where women can store their purse and personal belongings, and each room is filled with terry cloth robes and any personal hygiene items a woman might require. All the rooms are also furnished with cushioned, Victorian-style benches.

The adjoining waiting room is filled with magazines and a large wardrobe filled with gift items from the main center gift shop such as scarves, T-shirts, leggings, inspirational jewelry, picture frames and note cards.

Down the hallway is what the center refers to as its "Man Cave," a den-style waiting room just for men. Light brown leather couches line the walls across from a wall-mounted television and a cabinet with coffee, snacks and a plentiful supply of sports, hobby and news magazines.

The lobby gift shop boasts a range of gift items and supplies: everything from breast cancer pink-ribbon theme lapel pins to kitchen spatulas and personal apparel. The shop rotates a large assortment of wall plaques, coffee mugs, even coasters, that all bear uplifting messages. One key ring reads, "Hope today, cure tomorrow."

"Even before I knew I had breast cancer, I found this to be the warmest, most welcoming and soothing place I've ever been," said Marybeth Cleland of Prescott, a registered nurse and recently diagnosed breast cancer patient. "It just makes you feel at home."

Cleland said she felt reassured that whatever her outcomes this was a health environment where she would find compassionate, committed and skilled care to meet her particular needs.

"When I was waiting for my biopsy, these wonderful women (staff and volunteers) were supporting me. And Nancy Ledoyen (the center's director) was a great resource in every way you can imagine."

YRMC East Campus Hospital Administrator Frank Almendarez agrees that this center is a blessing to the community. Beyond the physical amenities, Almendarez said this center has a group of top-quality professionals with "big hearts."

"They truly believe in what they do and in serving women in our community, as well as men, and the whole experience when they come is one of caring," Almendarez said.

The center embraces the YRMC motto of a "total healing environment," Almendarez said.

From the moment a patient arrives, Almendarez said they are given care that is "respectful, always confidential, and they walk away knowing they are in good hands."

Just two doors down from the diagnostic center is the hospital's expanded infusion center, yet another patient-centric facility where patients who require infusions of any type can get treatment, including those who may require chemotherapy and cannot afford to do so at a for-profit center, officials said.

Prior to February, the infusion center was located in smaller quarters on the west campus.

As of last month, the infusion center served 699 patients, not all of them diagnosed with cancer, said Infusion Center Manager Alana Yoerger.

Though this center is a more clinical facility, the 12-station infusion room - a private room is set aside for bone marrow biopsies - is also designed to be a serene, calm setting. Patients are seated in large leather chairs where they can watch televisions that hang from the ceiling, or hook up laptops to the Internet while they get their intravenous medications.

Yoerger said she and the BreastCare Center staff work collaboratively, and everyone's goal is to assure all patients are treated with the utmost dignity. She and her staff are always happy to do the little things that might help make a patient's stay just that much more comfortable, be it stocking their favorite snack or timing their treatment with a fellow patient with whom they have bonded in friendship.

"I want an open environment," Yoerger said.

"There's nothing they can't ask me. If I don't have the answer, I'll find out."

For those breast cancer patients who require surgery, Almendarez said the hospital has four surgeons who "complement the program."

With these two side-by-side facilities, plus the on-site hospital operating rooms, Almendarez said local patients can get high-quality care in their home community, a comfort that also spares extra expense "during a critical moment in someone's life."

A woman of faith, Cleland said she believes it was divine providence that brought her to the BreastCare Center.

"He (God) was preparing me for the road ahead ....Just unbelievable. I have the highest regard ...It's a great center."

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