The Breast Center at Lawrence Memorial Hospital’s new west campus, planned for the northeast corner of Sixth Street and South Lawrence Trafficway, is all about the future.
“The progress our hospital has made in recent years in providing convenient, comprehensive and state-of-the-art breast health services — including diagnosis and treatment options — is outstanding,” says Russ Johnson, LMH president and CEO. “Construction of the new breast center represents an even higher level commitment to continuous improvement in the decades to come. The result will be the highest quality of breast health services and technological advances to everyone in the region.”
Nearly every family in our region has a friend or loved one who has battled breast cancer, which remains the second-leading cause of cancer deaths among women in Douglas County.
Sheryle D’Amico, vice president for the LMH Physician Division, has spent years of her career focused on improving patients’ journeys through breast cancer.
"In 2001, I was asked to put together a proposal for a breast center,” she says. The idea came from the amazing medical staff providing care for these patients. “We had great multidisciplinary physicians (surgeons, radiologists, pathologists, medical and radiation oncologists, primary care), but at that time, those professionals were working independently so care planning for the patient was not always well-coordinated.
“We began asking, ‘How can we better coordinate patient care?’ At that time, a breast cancer patient would travel from appointment to appointment, from primary care to an oncologist, then perhaps to a radiologist and a surgeon. And each new physician would have to be told what the previous physician had found or prescribed.”
So LMH brought in a nationally known consultant, D’Amico says, who took a look at the staff and the care already being offered to our patients and gave the hospital her highest praise.
“She told us: ‘If I had breast cancer, this is where I would come for treatment. The caliber of physicians you have here is excellent,’” D’Amico says.
“Then she helped us go to work making that excellent care more coordinated and efficient. We created a kind of virtual breast center, setting up a means of information sharing and communication among pathologists, plastic and general surgeons, oncologists and other providers, including radiologists.
"Soon after that virtual effort, a Breast Center opened on the main campus next to what is now the gift shop. In 2006, the Breast Center at LMH South opened. Improvements at that time included a full-time diagnostic radiologist, as well as dedicated waiting rooms for patients awaiting diagnostic testing or consultation.”
Now, D’Amico says, under Johnson’s direction, the hospital is looking toward the next 10 to 20 years and is focusing on providing even better care and results for patients.
The new center, which will be led by Brian Bradfield, director of imaging services at LMH, is another major step in the commitment to caring for breast cancer patients in the community.
Karen Shumate, LMH chief operating officer, serves as project manager for the new campus. She says the imaging area in the new facility will be enlarged and adjacent to the breast center.
“The new breast center will have its own entrance,” she said. “We are planning a beautiful entryway to a center that is devoted not just to looking pretty, but to a continuum of care that, as much as possible, eliminates the anxiety-ridden waits that women go through after diagnostic procedures.
“Our hope is for patients to feel cared for, to get them answers to their questions as soon as possible, and, if necessary, to help them quickly begin a plan of care.”
Advanced breast-imaging technology, 3D mammography, ultrasound and biopsy will allow physicians to customize treatment plans. An on-site breast surgeon will provide same-day diagnostic results whenever possible.
Dr. Dawn Jones, a surgeon who has focused on breast cancer treatment for 15 years, will move her office from LMH South to the new LMH Breast Center. She is part of a group of providers and staff who currently are working to ensure LMH earns a specialized accreditation offered by a consortium of national organizations focused on breast health.
“We meet the accreditation requirements already,” Dr. Jones says. “We are just waiting for their stamp of approval.”
The opening of the west campus of LMH and the new Breast Center at LMH is planned for late 2019 or early 2020. Although the required capital investment is significant, LMH’s strong financial position and the community’s generous philanthropic support mean that this project is well within the organization’s capacity.
LMH remains committed to its campus at 325 Maine St., which also is growing. This campus will continue to be the base of the hospital’s operation and the focus of outpatient care to east, central and north Lawrence.
Community supports LMH
Although Lawrence Memorial Hospital is city-owned, it receives no city or county tax dollars. That means gifts to the LMH Endowment Association help create a margin of excellence for the hospital.
This year, proceeds from the 2018 Hearts of Gold gala, scheduled for June 23 at the Jayhawk Club, will benefit women’s breast health.
To learn more about supporting LMH through the Endowment Association, visit lmhendowment.org or contact Executive Director Rebecca Smith at Rebecca.Ann.Smith@LMH.org or 785-505-6134. For more information about Hearts of Gold, visit lmh.org/heartsofgold.
— Katherine Dinsdale wrote this story for Lawrence Memorial Hospital, which is a major sponsor of Lawrence Journal-World’s Health section.