Too many women on Long Island have experienced the heart-stopping moment that comes with discovering a mass in their breast, followed by the anxiety and fear while waiting for a mammogram and its findings.
Susana Fuchs, MD, Director of the Breast Health Program, reviews a patient's mammogram.
Unfortunately, in this region -- and across the nation -- a timely appointment for either a routine or diagnostic breast screening and biopsy is becoming increasingly rare. According to a recent survey by New York Senator Charles Schumer, "Thousands of women across New York City and Long Island are forced to wait months for mammograms."
Speedy appointments for patients
That is definitely not the case at Winthrop-University Hospital's Breast Imaging & Diagnostic Center.
"Symptomatic patients are usually seen within 10 days, and routine screenings for asymptomatic women are often provided within the month of their request," said Susana Fuchs, MD, who, with more than 15 years' experience as a breast imaging specialist, serves as Director of the Hospital's Breast Health Program.
One patient described her experience at the Center this way: "While one can never find these things pleasant, I can say that your staff reduced my stress level as far as was humanly possible."
Prompt reports to physicians
Dr. Fuchs is also very much aware of how important it is to provide referring physicians with timely reports about their patients. "After every screening, each referring physician receives an electronically faxed report instantly," she reported. "For patients who require further diagnostic procedures, I call the physician personally on the same day I see the patient. We discuss the findings, recommendations for further procedures and the patient's options."
Salvatore Lo Presti, MD, a Garden City Obstetrician/Gynecologist, refers his patients to the Center for several reasons: "They can get mammogram appointments in a timely fashion," he said. "Some places make patients wait two or three months." He also appreciates that, "When there's a problem, a doctor gets on the phone and talks about it to me directly."
Evaluating treatment options and making wise decisions can be overwhelming for a patient who has just been diagnosed with a breast abnormality. To ease the process, the Center -- a comprehensive, specialized, self-contained facility for breast health with a focus on coordinated care -- provides each patient with a Personal Care Coordinator (PCC). A Clinical Nurse Specialist with expertise in breast health, the PCC offers information and support, answering questions and facilitating contacts with support groups and services provided with support groups and services provided support groups and services provided ith support groups and services provided by the Hospital's Women's Health Division.
"After speaking with the patients and their physicians about the available options for care, our Patient Care Coordinator guides them through the difficult process of taking the next steps," explained Dr. Fuchs. "This can be a great help to both the patient and referring physician."
Underscoring the Center's high-quality, personalized care, are the most advanced diagnostic procedures, sophisticated imaging technology and the latest techniques for non-surgical biopsies and minimally invasive procedures for breast abnormalities.
These include fine needle aspirations, mammotome stereotactic biopsies, and galatograms to examine the breast ducts.
The Center also provides a multidisciplinary approach to breast health, offering not only services of very skilled technologists, but also easy access to Winthrop's team of board-certified physicians and specialists, including radiologists, pathologists, medical and radiation oncologists, and wo7rld-class surgeons specially trained in breast, plastic and reconstructive surgery.
For more information about Winthrop's Breast Imaging & Diagnostic Center, call (516) 663-2400 or visit www.winthrop.org.