Health centre handed excellence award
Just 15 months after launching their breast biopsy service, Bermuda Cancer and Health Centre has been designated a Breast Imaging Centre of Excellence.
The international accreditation by the American College of Radiology (ACR) came after the introduction of BHC's breast biopsy service, arguably one of the best kept healthcare secrets in Bermuda.
Up until 15 months ago, King Edward VII Memorial Hospital was the only place biopsies were performed in Bermuda.
In the first year of the new BHC service, 160 breast biopsy and cyst aspiration procedures diagnosing 49 cases of breast cancer.
By awarding the status of a Breast Imaging Centre of Excellence, the ACR recognises that BHC has earned accreditation in digital mammography, breast biopsy, and breast ultrasound through breast imaging accreditation programmes in addition to the mandatory digital Mammography Accreditation Programme.
For BHC Executive Director Tara Soares the designation cements BHCs vision over several years to be able to provide a more comprehensive cancer assessment service in Bermuda.
One of the main benefits of the relatively new biopsy service she said is that it drastically cuts the waiting time down from weeks to days.
“Being able to have everything at a single facility means we can do screening, to diagnostic assessment, to actually doing a breast biopsy itself.
“Therefore the waiting time that members of our community, both men and women who get breast cancer, we significantly reduce that from weeks to days.
“That was a big part of what we wanted to accomplish because anybody who is potentially facing a cancer diagnosis wants to know,” said Ms Soares.
“We want to make that as quick as possible, this is a major accomplishment; we've been working on doing this for a while.
“A lot of people don't know that we are actually a comprehensive centre at this stage.
“We can provide the service so that we're doing the breast biopsies within a day or two.”
The 49 breast cancer cases diagnosed after biopsies performed in the first year of service represents the majority of breast cancers being detected in Bermuda on a yearly basis.
Breast Specialist Radiologist Dr David Green who joined BHC in 2011 meets with all diagnostic and biopsy patients to provide feedback right away.
Admittedly he said there's no good or easy way to tell someone they have cancer. After 22 years of experience he said it's still a learning process.
“When patients come I make myself available to answer any questions they may have,” he said.
“If they're called back for further assessment it's a very worrying time for them, they always assume the worse, so I'm able to explain why they were called back.
“A lot of the time it won't be to say you've got breast cancer, it will be to say actually you're okay.”
When the diagnosis is cancer he hones in on acquired skills based on the individual patients.
“I try to work out if they're the type of person who wants to know it up front or sugar coated. You get pretty good at that but you still don't get it right every time. I'm still learning actually.
“What the accreditation tells us is we're doing a good job and not only that we're compared to the best; that's very reassuring to us.”
But he lamented the fact that there's still “a lack of awareness out there” of the biopsy service and other services provided by BHC.
Those services includes bone density screenings, general ultrasounds and BHC also provides a Cancer Information Service where qualified advice is just a phone call away.
In closing Dr Green stressed that breast screening is a very important medical examination.
“We provide a personal service in that we can talk and tell patients what's going on with professionals who are well experienced in what they do.”
For more information call 236-1001, or visit www.chc.bm or on Facebook. The Cancer Information Service website is www.ccis.bm or call 232-2247.