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Hospital Celebrates Breast Center Grand Opening
Wednesday, October 1, 2008 • Posted October 1, 2008

Hill Country Memorial Hospital officials welcomed benefactors and the public to a ribbon-cutting and open house for the Hill Country Memorial Breast Center.

Located in the Brune Professional Building just north of the hospital campus, the center is a state-of-the-art digital mammography facility.

“This is your breast center,” Mike Tomforde, chairman of the HCMH Foundation, said in welcoming the crowd. “As you know, we’re a not-for-profit hospital, so your support is critical.” He said the foundation’s first hospital gala in 1987 raised $55,000 for the hospital’s original mammography unit. “Today, 20 years later, Gala XII raised $355,000 for a digital mammography unit,” he said. “Two annual appeals and a transformational gift increased that amount to $580,000, which made the purchase of two digital mammography units possible.” Tomforde drew laughter and applause as he added, “That’s good you know, because women don’t like to stand in line.”

Michael R. Williams, D.O., M.D., MBA, chief executive officer of the 37-year-old health system, recognized benefactors who helped fund the build-out of the breast center. Included were Ed and Trudy Brune who gifted the Brune Professional Building to the hospital in 2007 and this year issued a $50,000 challenge gift to help finish the interior work of the breast center. Meeting that challenge were the Bower Downing Partnership, Hill Country Imaging Associates, Harlan and Dian Stai, Camey Stewart and Mike and Jody Tomforde. “On behalf of the health system, I extend our special gratitude to all of you for helping make this new facility possible.”

Robert Murray, M.D., medical director of the hospital’s imaging services, also expressed appreciation to the community for keeping the hospital on the leading edge of technology. “Digital mammography is an incredible advancement for medicine and an example of what you have helped make a reality,” he said. “It’s that same support, year after year, that makes it possible for us to be here today to officially open the doors of this great facility.”

José A. Lopez, M.D., FACP, oncologist, said he is passionate about the new breast center “because it allows us to combine many services in one location.” He said the center will perform about 5,000 mammograms in a year, of which 800 cases will need further investigation. Of that number, 160 will show invasive breast cancer. “We report about 250 new cases of cancer a year from our area, so we must stay on the leading edge of technology to provide our community with the very best.”

Dr. Lopez said the breast center is the newest part of a larger, comprehensive breast health program. “We have an unusual, multidisciplinary breast health program that is more than just mammography,” he said. Other components include:

· Breast MRI, a noninvasive procedure that produces 2D and 3D images

· Ultrasound breast-specific imaging that uses sound waves to create an image without using radiation

· Sentinel node biopsy, a surgical procedure that can determine if a breast tumor has spread

· A unique breast tumor conference of surgeons, pathologists, radiologists, oncologists and specialized technologist who review every biopsy done at Hill Country Memorial

· The HCM Health, Hope and Healing Cancer Resource Center which provides state-of-the-art information on all aspects of breast disease

Cancer Resource Center Coordinator Donna Lafferty told the crowd that her message of hope is that many breast conditions are not cancer. “However, we can’t tell that unless screening mechanisms like ours are in place and utilized.” She recently learned first hand how sensitive the new digital equipment is.

“I had one of the ‘call-backs’ after having a mammogram in our breast center,” she said. “Susan Bacon, a mammographer and the manager of the center, told me that more call-backs may happen because of the improved clarity of the digital images. Luckily, I was able to leave the follow-up exam without the need for further steps, but it was really important to know that other diagnostic screenings like ultrasound, MRI and sentinel node biopsy could have been done quickly right here in Fredericksburg, and with further review by the breast tumor conference.”

The 1,810-square-foot breast center opened in August. For more information or to schedule a mammogram, call (830) 990-6181. For information on breast cancer or its risk factors, call the Cancer Resource Center at (830) 990-6648.

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OFFICIALLY OPENING the Hill Country Memorial Breast Center are hospital officials and red-shirted Fredericksburg Chamber of Commerce Ambassadors. They are (front row from left) Joanne Martin, Bobbie Heller, Sherry Freeman, Susie Thompson, Dr. Michael R. Williams (hospital CEO), Susan Bacon (HCM Breast Center manager), Dr. Leo C. Tynan, III (chief of staff), Dr. José A. Lopez (oncologist), Cindy Scroggins, Leta Ann Metzger, Marlene Pylate and Denise Holtz; (second row from left) Ernie Platfoot, Larry Crump, Teresa Fransik, Mark Wieser, Robert Deming, Dr. Robert R. Murray (radiologist) and Mike Tomforde (chairman, HCMH Foundation).

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