Stefanie Spielman Comprehensive Breast Center celebrates five years of innovation and caring
January 2016 marks the Stefanie Spielman Comprehensive Breast Center’s 5 year birthday—something that the entire community can celebrate.
In that time, ardent donors and community supporters have helped the center add features like 3D mammography (tomosynthesis), a low-level laser for treatment of lymphedema, a seventh ultrasound machine, and commercially manufactured prone radiotherapy boards (the center’s Julia White, MD, and Tina LaPaglia helped design them). All are focused on helping women with breast cancer.
The number of new breast cancer patients seeking treatment at The James has grown from 497 in 2010 to 900 projected for 2015. (The Stefanie Spielman Comprehensive Breast Center opened in January 2011.) This equates to more than 5,000 patients being treated or seen for followup at the center during a single year.
“It’s not just that we have all the services under one roof,” says Steve Kalister, MHA, MBA, the center’s administrator since November 2011. “It’s that patients can come in and see experts from three to four disciplines during a single day, so they leave our facility with treatment options to consider or a specific plan.”
Kalister says that the depth of expertise offered at the center is another distinguishing feature. The team includes radiologists, surgical oncologists, medical oncologists and radiation oncologists whose passion, daily work and research are solely focused on breast cancer.
Further, he notes, “This focus, expertise, and dedication isn’t limited to physicians. The team includes registered nurses, mammography technologists, radiation therapists, certified mastectomy fitters in Hope’s Boutique, advanced practice professionals (NPs and PAs) and others whose work is focused on patients with breast cancer and who often have decades of experience working exclusively with breast cancer patients.”
The center’s weekly multidisciplinary conference allows these experts to discuss each patients’ treatment. “The caliber of our team and ability of patients to see experts in multiple disciplines during a single day is wonderfully complemented by many invaluable support services woven into our program and beautiful facility. It’s at this point that what we offer becomes pretty amazing for women,” Kalister says.
Just as important as the quality of clinical care at the center is the patient experience. Kalister notes that the center was the first multidisciplinary program at Ohio State’s Comprehensive Cancer Center – James Cancer Hospital and Solove Research Institute to embrace relationship-based care (RBC), a conceptual framework for James nurses. The framework focuses on care of patient, care of self, care of colleagues and care of community.
“People here get it,” he says. “The entire team is dedicated to the relentless pursuit of improving the patient experience. We all keep looking for ways to do better. The full team earns the accolades, absolutely. In a similar vein, our staff tell us how much they enjoy being part of the program, part of our team. And patients sense that, without question.”
Many ideas for improvements come from those who know the patients best—the staff. Sometimes the ideas are about addressing an issue that’s surfaced; other times, they are about asking if there’s a way to make something better. One example that has had a tremendous impact is the concept of helping new patients find their way in the building by escorting them from Registration to their first appointment.
“It seems subtle, getting in the elevator and literally escorting the patient, but time and time again we see it called out in patient satisfaction surveys,” Kalister says. “This is the kind of care and compassion that we want to wrap around patients.”
Throughout the program there are concerted efforts to maintain the same clinical team—the same nurses, therapists, and mammography technologists—so there is continuity from visit to visit. It benefits the patients, first and foremost, and also the care team and individual clinicians.
Kalister is proud that the center often leads the way with new ideas, such as its redesigned approach to patient education.
“We have to keep trying new things and collecting data to further enhance them,” he says. “We appreciate it when the center is chosen to pilot a new process or program that will later be expanded to other settings.”
The future includes adding state-of-the-art technologies, recruiting world-class clinicians and scientists, and growing the program. Additionally, Kalister said, “There are opportunities to strengthen our presence in the community, whether it be through educational initiatives like an upcoming Continuing Medical Education (CME) program for primary care physicians, optimizing the deployment of our mobile mammography program, or the expansion of our survivorship clinics, where patients and their referring providers receive a treatment summary and survivorship care plan. We value and want to advance these community partnerships.”
The center will continue adding providers and staff. “It’s important that we can continue to get patients with a breast cancer diagnosis in quickly and offer them appointments with the relevant experts during a single day,” Kalister says.
In conclusion, Kalister says it is “difficult to express how grateful all of us at the center are for the significant and ongoing support from donors in this great community. The feeling is unbelievable, and we don’t take it for granted for a minute.”