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News Room: HEALTHY NEIGHBORS: St. Elizabeth Breast Center receives national accreditation
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Young Hebron mom’s story exemplifies center’s special brand of care
“You have stage one breast cancer.”
Though Krista Krallman’s doctor kept speaking after he delivered those words to her two years ago, she didn’t hear a word he said. It was one of those life-changing moments when the floor seems to drop out from under you. Time stops. Only the racing thoughts and fears remain.
Fortunately, the then 36-year-old mother of two was in the very capable and compassionate hands of the professionals at the Breast Center at St. Elizabeth Healthcare. As a result, a skilled Nurse Navigator was right there by her side. And that, she says, made all the difference.
“After the doctor said it was ‘stage one breast cancer’ I didn’t hear anything after that,” she recalls of the May 2012 diagnosis.
“But (Nurse Navigator) Terri Bogan was in the room. Initially, I didn’t realize how important it was for her to be there — I just thought she was there to cushion the blow. But that’s not really it. She went up and down and through everything I needed to know. … She answered every question we had. I really would have been clueless if she hadn’t been there. …
“In fact, even after we left – there were five of us from my family there — and we all were like, ‘What did she say?’ You just don’t remember. So, I called her the next day — because she told me to — and I said, ‘I don’t remember anything the doctor said.’ And she just said, ‘That’s why I tell you to call me.’”
National recognition. The most personal kind of care
Ms. Krallman had one of the most common types of breast cancer — invasive ductile carcinoma. There was nothing, however, “common” about the care she received at the Breast Center. Every step of the way, specially trained professionals from an array of specialties were there to answer questions, provide support and connect her to the best resources for her specific needs.
It’s that kind of multidisciplinary, responsive care that earned the Breast Center at St. Elizabeth Healthcare the National Accreditation Program for Breast Centers (NAPBC) Seal of Approval this winter. The rare recognition has been earned by only one other center locally, north of Cincinnati, and less than 500 nationwide.
It designates that the center’s professionals not only provide the highest level of breast imaging, but they also have attained top marks for:
- Needle biopsies and pathology.
- Interdisciplinary conferencing.
- Nursing, including Nurse navigation.
- Genetic evaluation.
- Surgical care, including plastic surgery.
- Medical and radiation oncology.
- Data management and research.
- Outreach, education, support and rehabilitation.
- Quality improvement.
- Survivorship programming.
In fact, during their on-site visit to the Breast Center, NAPBC surveyors said they were impressed by how quickly and personally physicians delivered test and imaging results, particularly since more than 40,000 mammograms are performed at St. Elizabeth annually.
“Our radiologists are phenomenal,” said Breast Center Nurse Manager, Toni Carle.
“They talk to patients as soon as they’re diagnosed and give them the results, which many centers do not do. In fact, our (NAPBC) surveyor asked, ‘How did you get your radiologists to do that?’ because at so many places patients have to wait.
“But, we don’t want that to happen. People are nervous wrecks and we want them to know right away what’s happening, so we try very hard to talk to them as soon as possible. The earlier you diagnose a patient the better her outcomes are. We’re seeing better outcomes because we get patients moving through the process more quickly.”
Setting an example for Nurse Navigation
But, at the Breast Center, “quickly” does not mean impersonally or rushed. A testament to that is the fact that hospitals from across the country regularly visit and consult with the St. Elizabeth Healthcare Breast Center to learn how the Nurse Navigators here do what they do, and do it so well.
“We were one of the first hospitals in the country to have Nurse Navigators. Now we have eight of them and hospitals nationwide come here to tour to learn more about our Breast Nurse Navigators,” said Ms. Carle.
“Our Nurse Navigators follow you through your entire journey. That means they’re here to answer financial questions or help get you where you need to be for care — connect you with support groups, or help you find wigs or prosthetics. Plus, we have all of those components right here and that’s something other centers don’t have.”
Krista Krallman — who is now cancer-free and back doing what she loves, including her work as a teacher’s assistant at Conner Middle School in Hebron — took advantage of most of the center’s services. Today, she cannot speak highly enough of her experience. In fact, she says she recently referred a neighbor to the Breast Center to help her with her own journey through treatment for this prevalent disease.
After all, as Ms. Krallman learned all too well, the diagnosis of breast cancer can really knock you off your feet. That’s why it’s so important to find a caregiver who not only delivers medicine at its best, but also provides the most compassionate guidance through what can be a very frightening and complex journey to wellness.
“They helped me constantly,” says Ms. Krallman. “Any questions I had they said call, and they’d call right back. They were very supportive. And there’s always a Nurse Navigator in the room with you and they always check to make sure everything is going good.
“They’re really like your little personal assistants to help you remember all the things you need to and help you get through it all, honestly. We got superclose. … They’re really all just so wonderful.”
To learn more about the St. Elizabeth Breast Center, please click here.
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