BRISTOL, Conn.-- Five years after its opening, the Beekley Center for Breast Health and Wellness at Bristol Hospital, continues to make a vital difference in the lives of hundreds of patients.
“This team that we have here is a recipe for success,” said breast surgeon Sai Varanasi, MD, FACS, who also is medical director of the Beekley Center. “I am so proud of the impact that we have on our patients, families, and the outstanding reputation the center has in the community. Our goal is simple—take care of the person and not just the disease.”
The 6,100-square-foot Beekley Center for Breast Health and Wellness opened in October 2013 thanks to a generous $1 million donation from the Beekley Family Foundation. Dr. Varanasi played a major role in the design of the state-of-the-art breast health center which offers patients comprehensive breast care and wellness in a spa-like setting. The breast health center includes a waterfall wall and a lighting design aimed at making patients feel at ease.
A team of stakeholders consisting of breast cancer survivors, volunteers, and Bristol Hospital and Beekley Corporation employees visited other breast centers in the region, and had significant input into the design and layout of the center.
“We are extremely proud of our partnership with Bristol Hospital and the Beekley Center for Breast Health and Wellness,” said Ayn S. LaPlant, president and CEO of Beekley Corporation. “Since many of our employees patients there themselves, there is an extraordinary sense of ownership when it comes to the breast health center. This includes supporting and furthering the mission of Dr. Varanasi and her wonderful team of providers.”
LaPlant added that the Beekley Family Foundation continues to raise funds for the center though two major charitable events including its annual ARC Angel Golf Tournament and the Designer Handbag Bingo event.
In 2016, the Beekley Family Foundation donated funds for a new 3D digital tomosynthesis unit which creates a three-dimensional picture of the breast from different angles and allows radiologists to view breast tissue layer by layer. The foundation also donated funds for a SPY Elite System—a machine that helps ensures proper passage of fluid to tissue during post-mastectomy breast surgery. The SPY Elite System is utilized by plastic surgeon Vinod Pathy, MD, who began treating breast patients at the hospital.
Dr. Varanasi credits much of the success of the Beekley Center to Clinical Coordinator and Breast Health Navigator Kathy Albano, RN, BSN, CN-BN, who also has been with the center since its opening.
“Breast care has been streamlined and Kathy, as the breast health navigator, plays a crucial role with our patients by following up on all appointments and being by the patient’s side throughout this journey,” Dr. Varanasi said.
For Albano, the breast health navigator role is a labor of love and her passion is rewarded by the endless number of positive survey results and thank you notes submitted by the patients and families of the center.
“It’s not only the comprehensive care that we provide, but it’s the overall patient experience that people remember,” Albano said. “We make what can be a difficult situation more manageable by providing care with compassion and sensitivity, and by the same dedicated team that the patient is familiar with.”
Albano added that the spa-like setting on the Beekley Center which includes warmed robes, coffee and tea, and heated exam tables can help ease some of the anxiety patients experience with their breast health exams.
“Health care is usually thought of as cold and sterile,” Albano said. “We want to encourage and provide a warm and inviting environment.”
Dr. Varanasi and Albano said another successful component of the center is that it has exceeded national best practice benchmarks. In 2016, the Beekley Center achieved the status of a Certified Quality Breast Center of Excellence which is the highest level given by the National Quality Measures for Breast Centers (NQMBC).
“We earned this certification by submitting more 25 quality measures including measures for timeliness of imaging and surgical care, breast conservation rate, needle biopsy rate, radiology call back rate, pathology reporting, re-excision rate and patient satisfaction,” Albano said. “Comprehensive, stream lined, and compassionate care is our mission and our team’s dedication to that is reflected in this honor.”