Daly City, CA (July 16, 2012) – This week, as Seton Medical Center marks the one-year anniversary of providing MRI breast coil services, the first patient returned again for her annual exam, and she’s still raving about having the advanced technology accessible at Seton for the convenience of southern San Francisco and north Peninsula residents.
In 2007, Jade Skifich was diagnosed and treated for breast cancer. As part of her follow-up care to check for any return of the cancer, Skifich receives an annual MRI breast coil test. Before Seton installed its MRI breast coil machine last year, Skifich and other local patients had to make the inconvenient trek into San Francisco for the procedure. “It could take an hour-and-a-half just to travel the seven miles and find a place to park,” Skifich recalls. Battling traffic to and from the city took so long and was so stressful that she would take the entire day off from work.
Skifich, who is currently a registered nurse and staff educator at SetonMedicalCenter, initially became acquainted with Seton when her husband was battling cancer of his own and Skifich spent hours at the hospital at his bedside. “Watching the staff take care of my husband, and being on the receiving end of the compassionate care they provide, I knew I wanted to work here and become part of the team,” she said.
When Skifich learned last year that the hospital was introducing MRI breast coil services, she says she was excited to be the first patient to receive the service at Seton. “I’m so happy that this service is now available at Seton,” she says, smiling. “Now I only have to travel seven minutes from my home to receive quality, personalized care, and I don’t need to take an entire day off work.”
MRI breast coil technology is designed to spot small tumors that can be missed by mammograms and ultrasound procedures. It uses a magnetic field, radiofrequency pulses and a computer to produce highly detailed images of the breast. If a suspected tumor is detected, an MRI-guided breast biopsy is used to obtain tissue samples for microscopic examination.
“Our patients appreciate the convenience of having this technology right in their community,” notes Lana Heagy, director of the Seton Breast Health Center. She explains that patient comfort is a top priority of the center. A special pad placed over the coils cushions patients during the procedure. To help patients relax, the department has placed a soothing mural on the ceiling in the procedure room – the last thing the patient sees before entering the MRI machine – and, during the procedure flat on their stomachs, patients view an image of poppies posted on the wall. “Patient comfort is a top priority. We also make it easy for patients to schedule appointments and to get in and out as quickly and efficiently as possible,” Heagy adds, noting that ample free parking near the center entrance is another convenience for patients.
Claudia Pratt, RN, the center’s breast health coordinator, educates patients on topics related to breast health and breast cancer. But her role goes beyond education: she knows the value of a comforting touch, and guides apprehensive patients through the MRI breast coil procedure. “I remember my first patient when I started in this role,” she recalls. “The patient was sitting with her head down. When I spoke to her I noticed she had a tear in her eye.” Pratt instinctively reached out, held the patient’s hand in hers and spoke reassuringly to her. She instantly saw her patient relax. “That showed me that you just need to show you care,” she said.
According to the American Cancer Society, breast MRI is recommended along with mammograms to look for breast cancer in women at high risk for breast cancer. The Cancer Society notes that at this time MRI is not used by itself for early detection of breast cancer. Women considered to be at high risk include those who have had breast cancer or have a mother or sister with breast cancer.
The Seton Breast Health Center offers a range of services women need for breast health and breast cancer education, screening, diagnosis and treatment in one coordinated program. Along with the breast health nurse coordinator, the center’s range of services include digital mammography, breast ultrasound, stereotactic breast biopsies, as well as MRI breast coil and MR-guided breast biopsies.
About Seton Medical Center: Seton Medical Center, a member of Daughters of Charity Health System, is an acute-care, not-for-profit 357-bed hospital serving the health care needs of our entire community. We are committed to assuring access to health care to our entire community and especially for those in need. Seton, with more than 430 physicians, offers the most advanced surgical procedures, treatment options, and comprehensive health care services available. Seton Medical Center is fully accredited by The Joint Commission and has received the American Heart Association/American Stroke Association’s Get With the Guidelines® Stroke Gold Plus Performance Achievement Award. Cornerstone services include The San Francisco Heart & Vascular Institute, the Spine Care Institute, the Orthopedics and Joint Replacement Institute, a certified community cancer center offering a broad array of oncology services, and robotic surgery. For more information, visit www.setonmedicalcenter.org.