Breast cancer of the future

Tom Kurtz (right), president and CEO of the Chan Soon-Shiong Medical Center at Windber, introduces Dr. Patrick Soon-Shiong during a ceremony to rename the hospital on Sept. 8, 2016.

WINDBER – During opening ceremonies in 2002, Joyce Murtha described the vision of a new local breast care center.

“The facility has been designed by women, for women, with the goal of making screenings and treatments as convenient and supportive as possible,” she said at Joyce Murtha Breast Care Center.

Today, the center’s staff and Chan Soon-Shiong Medical Center at Windber leadership continue to focus on the patient, center manager Erin Goins said.

“We are passionate about our patients,” Goins said. “We put ourselves in that their place. We continue to have all the technology in this building.”

Recent technology upgrades have included a bone density scanner, 3-D mammography machine, biopsy equipment and magnetic resonance imaging and ultrasound systems.

“Even when the hospital is on tough times, this place gets priority,” Goins said.

The priority is part of Windber’s vision, hospital President and CEO Tom Kurtz said.

“It was built to make it the centerpiece for the Windber hospital,” Kurtz said. 

“It always will be.”

For

15 years, the center has set the standard for breast care centers and for the hospital’s patient-centered commitment, he said.

“There is a reason Joyce Murtha Breast Care Center stands out among breast centers,” Kurtz said. “For us, every day is October. We focus on those patients exclusively.”

Patients like the one-stop center when it comes to breast screenings and diagnostics, Goins said.

“What’s nice here, you can walk in here and get your mammogram, and you’ll have a radiologist look at it immediately,” Goins said. “If you need additional imaging, it can be done that day. If a patient needs to see a breast specialist, they can get an appointment with Dr. (Debra) Sims. Biopsies can be done the same day as the appointment with Dr. Sims.”

The conscious decision to promote breast health and treatment flies in the face of medical tradition, Kurtz admits.

“If you look at the economy of breast centers, there isn’t much reimbursement,” Kurtz said. “That’s why they’re usually tucked away in basements.”

Windber’s commitment to the center continues to reap benefits, he said.

“We use the breast care center as a standard for the way we treat patients – with compassion,” Kurtz said. “We try to emulate that throughout Windber. That’s what we want for the whole hospital.”

Patients appreciate the effort, Kurtz said.

“We don’t have to publicize that center,” Kurtz said. “It’s self perpetuating.

“The women who go there are the best marketing for that place.” 

Randy Griffith is a multimedia reporter for The Tribune-Democrat. He can be reached at 532-5057. Follow him on Twitter @PhotoGriffer57.