Case Study | January 04, 2010

Quality Care Close to Home State-of-the-Art Breast Care at Angel Medical Center

man and woman marching for breast cancer

The successful event featured nearly 80 people who raised money and donned the decorated garments as they marched through the streets of Franklin.

Breast cancer walk participants

The participants included influential community members, and the $32,000 raised from the event far surpassed the centers goal of $20,000.

Angel Medical Center in Franklin, N.C. is a small rural hospital with a big commitment: to bring state-of-the-art technology close to home. AMC strives to become a center of excellence for breast health — the hospital has provided the comfort of the MammoPad breast cushion for more than two years, and it became the first facility west of Asheville to offer digital mammography in 2008. Angel Medical Center’s next challenge is to offer advanced diagnostic technology in-house with a Hologic MultiCare Platinum stereotactic breast biopsy table.
Like many rural medical centers, AMC must balance its desire to offer cutting-edge technology with its ability to pay for the equipment. So when the hospital needed funds to pay off its new mammography equipment and purchase the breast biopsy table, they did what any tight-knit community would do — get the whole town involved.
In July 2009, the Angel Medical Center Foundation organized “Bras for the Cause,” an event designed to build awareness about the importance of breast health and raise money for AMC’s breast center. The unique event included a walk-a-thon, which featured prominent community leaders wearing “artful bras” created by a local quilters’ guild. Local businesses donated food, music and prizes to the event, which drew several hundred participants and raised over $32,000.
Commitment to Excellence
Angel Medical Center has long demonstrated its commitment to breast health. The center began using the MammoPad breast cushion more than two years ago, and it is still the only facility in the region to offer its patients the comfort of the “softer mammogram.”
AMC hoped MammoPad would provide more comfort for women during the exam, so they did a brief trial where patients could choose whether or not they wanted to use the cushion. When the patient surveys came back, the results were overwhelmingly positive.
“Women loved MammoPad. It was so much more comfortable for them,” said Radiology Director Lori Smith. “Now we offer it standard of care because it’s better for the patients. MammoPad has made a huge difference.”
What started as a way to increase patient comfort led to several clinical benefits as well. Shortly after implementing MammoPad, AMC noticed a significant improvement in image quality, which they attribute to the cushion’s impact on positioning and compression.
“The images with MammoPad are phenomenal. We’re getting more detail because it keeps the breast in place and prevents it from sliding, and the increased comfort for patients allows for better compression,” said Smith. “Even our radiologists notice how much of a difference MammoPad makes in producing quality images.”
The benefits AMC experienced only grew after it introduced Hologic Selenia digital mammography in July 2008. They made the decision to offer digital mammography when the center’s two analog machines began breaking down. AMC knew it made sense to upgrade to digital instead of investing in new film-screen machines — not only was it cutting-edge technology, but patients were starting to leave AMC in order to get digital exams at other facilities, sometimes as far as 90 minutes away.
“We wanted to have digital so patients can have access to the best technology close to home,” said Smith. “Digital allows for much better tissue penetration, and the level of detail we’re seeing has helped us identify potential problems much earlier, and that’s going to save lives.”
Though the hospital used film-screen equipment from another vendor, AMC selected the Hologic Selenia system based on its superior technology, image quality and user interface, which they believed outperformed any other system they considered.
“Even though we’re a small hospital, money was not a factor in our decision to offer Selenia digital mammography,” Smith said. “We try to get the absolute best for our patients. It’s always about quality, and Hologic just absolutely shined.”
According to Smith, Hologic helped streamline the center’s workflow because it combined all mammography technology on the same platform. From the TechMate workstations to R2 CAD, the shared platform enables technologists, radiologists and surgeons to seamlessly collaborate on a patient’s images. As a result, AMC reduced its screening appointment times from 30 minutes to 20 minutes, fast enough to accommodate the increased demand without sacrificing time with patients.
The breast center experienced a nearly 60 percent increase in patient volume following the acquisition of digital mammography. Every week, the hospital requests at least 10-20 sets of images from other facilities as women continue to choose AMC — one of the many benefits of pairing the cutting edge technology of Selenia digital mammography with the comfort of the MammoPad breast cushion. “There have been a lot of women who come from other facilities to get their mammograms,” said Smith. “Digital mammography is a huge draw, and women are just amazed by MammoPad. It’s really exciting to see the amount of patients coming here.”
Bringing State-of-the-Art Technology Close to Home
Now that Angel Medical Center offers the latest mammography technology, they want to do the same with breast biopsy solutions. Currently, the center performs stereotactic breast biopsies on a mobile unit that comes to the hospital once every two weeks. But making patients wait for a procedure as crucial as a biopsy made the staff at AMC feel they weren’t meeting their own standards for quality care. So the hospital decided to bring the technology in-house with a Hologic MultiCare Platinum stereotactic biopsy table. “The MultiCare Platinum will produce superior clinical results while making the process as comfortable as possible,” Sanford said. “Our patients will no longer experience the anxiety associated with waiting for the mobile unit.”

The hospital is renovating its radiology facilities to accommodate the new equipment and plans to install the biopsy table within the next year. Fortunately, the outstanding success of “Bras for the Cause” puts AMC another step closer to achieving its goal.

The successful event featured nearly 80 people who raised money and donned the decorated garments as they marched through the streets of Franklin. The participants included several influential community members, including the Macon County sheriff, a retired state senator, the CEO of Angel Medical Center as well as many of the hospital’s physicians. The $32,000 raised from the event far surpassed the center’s goal of $20,000.

While the Angel Medical Center Foundation is only two years old and has a relatively small donor base, AMC takes pride in such a significant achievement in a short period of time. Sanford credits much of the success to hospital employees and the community – support that is crucial for a rural hospital dedicated to offering state-of-the-art technology.

“It was our most successful event since the foundation started in 2007. The success is because the community embraced the event and had fun,” she said. “We’re not a wealthy community by any standard, but the hospital has chosen to make wise investments to get the very best, because we’re all about quality care close to home.

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