Comprehensive breast cancer center opens
EASTON — Some of the words and phrases used to describe the new University of Maryland Shore Regional Health Clark Comprehensive Breast Center and the process to build it include “a herculean task,” “a recognized need,” “world class,” “state of the art,” and much more.
Shore Regional Health held a ribbon cutting and grand opening ceremony for the new center for breast health on Wednesday, June 22.
“Our focus has been, for the last few years, on patientcentered care,” said John Dillon, chairman of the Shore Regional Health Board of Directors. “There is no facility in our system that is more patient-centered than this facility.”
The Clark Comprehensive Breast Center, at 10 Martin Court in Easton, stands in a building that used to only contain Shore Regional Health’s Diagnostic and Imaging Center.
After 16 months of renovations — during which about 250 to 300 patients a day were still seen in the building — worth about $6.5 million, the Shore Regional Health’s breast health services are now fully integrated with the Diagnostic and Imaging Center in a facility that houses what Shore Regional Health representatives at the ribbon cutting ceremony and grand opening on Wednesday, June 22, called state-of-the-art technology.
Communications and Marketing Specialist for Shore Regional Health Christina Wingate-Spence said the premise for the center is to make it more convenient for people who are in need of breast health services and diagnostics to get everything they need in one location.
The Clark Comprehensive Breast Center offers diagnostic mammography; breast ultrasound and MRI; stereotactic, ultrasound-guided and MRI-guided biopsies; excisional biopsies for benign and malignant breast disease; fine-needle aspirations; surgical care for all benign and malignant diseases of the breast; a Wellness for Women screening mammography program; a Survivors Offering Support program; and a Women’s Health Boutique for post-mastectomy garments, prosthetics and swim wear.
Shore Regional Health CEO Ken Kozel said Wednesday that the landscape of health care “is changing rather dramatically.”
“Shore Health has been focusing our efforts on keeping our communities healthy through enhanced outpatient services, such as preventative care, health education, access to diagnostic services, access to primary care physicians and specialty physicians, and a variety of other programs that will help us maintain the wellness of our friends and neighbors,” Kozel said.
“Many of those services are available right here at the Clark Comprehensive Breast Center,” he said.
The breast center’s medical director, Dr. Roberta J. Lilly, said women and men should not have to knock on many doors and try to get into clinics far from home in order to get all the care they need. She said it needs to be easy to access and close to home, “which is what we have here.”
“I think the opening of the Clark Comprehensive Breast Center is the start of a new era for us,” Lilly said.
Lilly said that about fourand-a-half years ago, when she transferred to Shore Regional Health within the university system, that she dug into statistics and found that the five Mid-Shore counties have some of the highest rates of breast cancer compared to anywhere in the country. Even more compel-
ling, she said, is that some of the Mid-Shore counties are seeing mortality rates from breast cancer that are higher than average, “and this shouldn’t happen anywhere.”
She said all breast cancer is treatable and most is curable, and long-term survivability of breast cancer is in the 90th to 95th percentile.
She called breast cancer care a “truly multi-dimensional, multi-disciplinar y field” and “that’s why it’s one of those areas where it’s so important to bring everybody together in one room ... with minds and authority and accountability, and that’s what it takes to get a multi-disciplinary breast center up and running.”
Kozel, Dillon and Moorhead Vermilye, vice chairman of the University of Maryland Memorial Hospital Foundation Board of Trustees and the chairman for the breast center’s capital campaign, all thanked one specific donor family that provided most of the money required to renovate and build the breast center — the Clark family.
“When this notion first came in front of the board (of directors), it was not a matter of whether we’d do it or not, it was how do we make this happen,” Dillon said.
The Clark family and the Clark Charitable Foundation Inc. donated $5 million to Shore Regional Health to build the comprehensive breast center.
For Courtney Clark Pastrick, president of the Clark Charitable Foundation Inc., the mission was personal, she said.
Besides considering the Eastern Shore and Easton a place her family can call home, Clark Pastrick said she was diagnosed with breast cancer 15 years ago, and it’s only thanks to the work of good breast health services that she could attend the grand opening of the comprehensive breast center as a breast cancer survivor.
“The University of Maryland Shore Regional Health Clark Comprehensive Breast Center will provide exceptional breast health services, leading-edge technology, outreach programs and support services to the entire Eastern Shore,” she said. “My mother (Alice Clark) and I are pleased to have this breast center, which provides vital care to this community, bear the Clark family name.”
In addition to the $5 million donated by the Clark family, Wingate-Spence said Shore Regional Health had to start a capital campaign to fund the total cost of renovations and technology needed to run the breast center. The Memorial Hospital Foundation raised money from generous donors in the community, she said, and local state lawmakers helped secure a $540,000 bond from the state.
“It has been said that without a vision, people will perish, and you have the vision and you moved forward,” Sen. Addie Eckardt, R-37-MidShore, said Wednesday to a group of supporters at the grand opening and ribbon cutting ceremony.
“It’s really important that we have the right diagnosis, that we have the right treatment, that we have the right services, that we have the right follow up at the right time, and that’s what the delivery of health care is all about these days,” Eckardt said.
Front row, from left, are Linda Prochaska, a field representative for U.S. Sen. Barbara Mikulski, D-Md., Moorehead Vermilye, Dr. Roberta J. Lilly, Alice Clark, Courtney Clark Pastrick, Ken Kozel and Sen. Addie Eckardt, R-37-Mid-Shore. They, among many others, celebrated the grand opening of the University of Maryland Shore Regional Health Clark Comprehensive Breast Center on Wednesday, June 22.
Pictured above is a view from a waiting room at the University of Maryland Shore Regional Health Clark Comprehensive Breast Center, which had its grand opening and ribbon cutting on Wednesday, June 22.