Breast Cancer Screening Special Set to End May 31
The Sheila R. Veloz Breast Imaging Center (SRVBIC) at Henry Mayo Newhall Memorial Hospital in Valencia offers $160 breast cancer screening mammograms for Santa Clarita Valley women through May 31 as part of the hospital’s ongoing breast cancer awareness and prevention campaign.
Residents who are uninsured, have high deductibles, or whose insurance plans are not contracted by Henry Mayo can get a routine screening mammogram check-up for this special price, a reduction of almost $20 from previous years’ special deals.
“The screening includes the hospital charges and the reading by one of our radiologists, who specialize in mammography,” said Terry Bucknall, BA, RT (R) (M), CRA, and director of the SRVBIC. “So it’s just one charge. The patient won’t get another bill from anyone else.”
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Breast Cancer: Early Detection Key to Prevention
Breast cancer kills nearly 40,000 women each year, according to the latest (2011) national statistics from the American Cancer Society.
A screening mammogram is one of the most important things a woman can do to protect her health, Bucknall said.
“If we can catch a breast cancer at a very early stage, the chances of treating it and her living a long, healthy life is just multiplied so much,” she said. “Early detection is the most important key to prevention.”
SRVBIC Mammogram Special Removes Barriers
Henry Mayo and the SRVBIC designed the May mammogram screening special to make sure women do not have financial barriers to getting screened.
“We want to make sure they’re able to come in and have their annual mammogram and not have to worry about breaking their checkbook,” Bucknall said.
Women who are insured can also go to the center for a screening and use their insurance benefits.
Check out the photos in KHTS’ Google Maps tour of the SRVBIC.
The SRVBIC promotes early detection by lowering the cost and making early detection an option for women who perhaps did not think they could afford it.
“A screening is for women who have no symptoms, and should be done on an annual basis,” Bucknall said. “Except for patients of selected physicians, women do not need to have a doctor’s order to have this done.”
Bucknall adds that an appointment is necessary. “We have appointments that are convenient for everyone’s schedule. We’re open a couple of evenings during the week, and selected Saturdays.”
SRVBIC a ‘Breast Imaging Center of Excellence’
The SRVBIC was designated a “Breast Imaging Center of Excellence” by the American College of Radiology and by the National Consortium of Breast Centers. SRVBIC doctors and staff have performed more than 120,000 breast imaging procedures in its 10-year history, Bucknall said.
Today, the staff sees an average of 11,600 patients a year, with 9,200 of them having screening mammograms.
“We serve anywhere between 35 and 100 new patients a month — it just depends on the month,” she said. “The May special attracts many patients, as it does in October, when we also offer the special cash rate.”
SRVBIC Has the Latest Mammography Technology
The SRVBIC uses state-of-the-art digital mammography and highly trained mammography radiologists to detect changes in a patient’s breast tissue. Those changes could indicate an abnormality like a pre-cancerous or non-cancerous cyst or lump.
Digital mammograms are a quantum improvement over images provided by antiquated analog technology. Digital images are now the fastest, safest and best way to detect an early cancer, when it is the most treatable.
“Digital mammography is faster and significantly increases the ability to see very small abnormalities,” Bucknall said. “It makes it easier to detect breast cancers in the early stage, and an earlier diagnosis increases the patient’s options for treatment.”
The SRVBIC also has the latest ultrasound technology, and MRI is available at Tower Imaging Valencia, which complement mammography in cancer detection. Ultrasound and MRI images make it easier for surgeons to see even very small cysts or tumors in breast tissue. Doctors can then perform the least invasive biopsies, or tissue samples taken for testing for cancer, from the area in question.
The Human Factor Still Rules at SRVBIC
However, all the high technology aside, the SRVBIC staff is mainly dedicated to making women feel as comfortable as possible under what can often be stressful circumstances.
“All we do here is breast imaging,” Bucknall said. “The environment is really friendly and warm. It’s more like walking into a home environment; it’s not real clinical. It’s comfortable, not threatening. We usually can get a patient in and out of here very quickly. Sometimes a patient doesn’t even have time to sit down and have a minute to wait before they actually get in and out. That seems to be one of the biggest comments and compliments we get here, and that the facility is clean, comfortable, efficient and friendly.
Mindy Burgess (right) of the Sheila R. Veloz Breast Imaging Center consults with a patient.
“The staff here is very happy to come to work,” she said. “Everyone likes what they do here, and the patients know that. They can tell that by walking in the door and feeling the atmosphere. They feel very comfortable. And they do comment on that frequently.”
Grants from Susan G. Komen for the Cure, Boston Scientific Foundation
A pair of major grants from longtime benefactors helps the SRVBIC make low-cost mammograms available during May and throughout the year.
One, from the Susan G. Komen for the Cure organization, helps pay for diagnostic imaging for women — as well as men — who are younger than 40 and have symptoms of breast abnormalities.
“There’s no program offered for a woman under 40 for mammography,” Bucknall said. “So, this grant would help the younger women who find a lump in their breast or have some sort of a symptomatic issue with their breasts. If they come to us and we put them on the grant, it costs them absolutely nothing.”
On the upper end of the age scale, the Boston Scientific Foundation provides funds for older uninsured and under-insured women who don’t qualify for state-funded breast cancer screening programs, and would otherwise fall through the cracks.
“That’s for women 40 or older who are uninsured or under-insured,” Bucknall said.
“Together these grants have served more than 1,500 women, so they’ve been great,” she said.
Mammograms for Women Younger than 50? Absolutely
Bucknall dismissed the reports of a few clinical task forces that concluded mammogram screenings for women younger than 50 are not necessary or appropriate.
“You and I both know that’s not true,” she said. [The author’s mother died of breast cancer in 1973 when she was not yet 44.] “Maybe your mom would be alive if we’d had these screenings and could have caught it early.” [A pause to ponder the possibilities.]
Who Was Sheila R. Veloz?
“Sheila R. Veloz was a fundraiser in our community,” Bucknall said. “She was very philanthropic and with a group of women who raised money for the hospital in general. They actually were instrumental in funding the first Zeiss microscope in the operating room. Sheila had breast cancer, was treated and in a remissive state. Then it came back. That was 2001. At that time, there was no place in the area for a woman to go that would have the kind of respect, convenience and confidence in treating breast cancer.”
Who Was Tom Veloz?
Veloz’ widower, Tom Veloz, also a highly respected Santa Clarita businessman and philanthropist, honored his wife and women everywhere by establishing the Sheila R. Veloz Breast Imaging Center fund.
He seeded it with a cash grant, and the center opened in 2002. Veloz helped generate additional operating capital through fundraising among his fellow Santa Clarita Valley business owners and nonprofit organizations focused on women, like Zonta and Soroptimists of Santa Clarita Valley. He died in September 2006.
“Tom wanted to make sure women didn’t have to experience the same thing Sheila experienced with her breast cancer treatment,” Bucknall said. “It’s not that she had bad treatment, it’s just that it could’ve been a lot better. With his initial seed money, we were able to build our center and buy our first digital mammography equipment. And we’ve completed replaced and upgraded It since then.”
Bucknall said if not for Tom and for Shelia Veloz, the hospital probably would have put together a breast center eventually.
“But they were the huge motivator, because we were able to do that with money that was donated to us,” she said.
Breast Cancer Patients, Survivors, Families Helped Plan SRVBIC
Breast cancer patients and their families and supporters have been involved with the SRVBIC since its planning stages.
“Our center is built upon the recommendations of survivors and women in the community,” Bucknall said. “We started out with an advisory council that actually helped to pick out the furniture, the paintings on the walls, the carpet, everything. We looked at everything that would be pleasing to a woman who came into the center. And because of having all of this input, we’ve also made it a real community effort and raise money every year so we can continue to advance our technology.”
And that brings us right back to the SRVBIC’s high-tech digital mammogram special this month.
“May is almost over, and we do get busy toward the last week, but we try to accommodate everyone as quickly as we can,” Bucknall said. “And if we need to extend the special, we will.”
The Sheila R. Veloz Breast Imaging Center is located on the Henry Mayo Newhall Memorial campus at 23929 McBean Parkway, Suite 101, Valencia 91355. The phone number for appointments is 661-253-8822.
For more information about the SRVBIC, visit the center’s website at www.sheilacenter.org.
For more information about Henry Mayo, call 661-253-8005 or visit www.henrymayo.com.
Photos: Courtesy Sheila R. Veloz Breast Imaging Center.
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