October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month
Hospital offers several women's health programs
As a woman today, it's difficult to turn on the television or pick up a magazine or newspaper without coming across information regarding Hormone Replacement Therapy and mammograms. Women are bombarded with all kinds of information about women's health issues, many of them sometimes conflicting, so it's important to be well informed when you speak to your physician about your health care. Being prepared can be your greatest tool in taking charge of your health.
The month of October is National Breast Cancer Awareness Month and your local community hospital offers several women's health resources, including: treatment, diagnosis and, most importantly, a source of education.
Each patient's treatment needs to be based on her individual medical history. Patients should rely on their attending physician for information about their health care decision-making process. At Washington Hospital, we are here to help patients make informed decisions regarding their care.
Your public hospital makes available several tools to help you better understand and care for your specific health issues as a woman.
Educating Our Community
Open to the Washington Township Health Care District community, the Hospital's Community Health Resource Library contains a wealth of resources for those looking to broaden their knowledge of health related topics. Visitors may access - free of charge - books, videos, audiotapes, Web pages and magazine articles. In addition, library staff can direct you to various sources of information about medical terminology, diseases, drug information, clinical trials, organizations, support groups, doctors, hospitals and TV/news articles. The library also offers free bone density screenings Monday through Friday.
Washington Hospital physicians also present free community classes as part of the Hospital's Health & Wellness class series during the year on issues such as, breast health, Hormone Replacement Therapy, osteoporosis and pregnancy. Support groups are also available on the Hospital campus for women battling breast cancer.
Washington Hospital is proud to have been the first hospital in Alameda County to purchase a digital mammography machine and accompanying computer equipment. In contrast to traditional breast mammograms done using X-ray equipment, the digital mammography provides the physician with much more detailed images because the machine can magnify parts of the pictures for closer study.
Additionally, the digital equipment reduces the time spent waiting for results, since unlike X-rays, which need to be developed before examination, digital images appear on a computer monitor.
If the radiologist notices an abnormality in the X-ray, most times a woman would have to return for another examination. With the digital mammography equipment, radiology staff can view the abnormality on the computer screen and enhance the image with a click of the mouse.
Ultimately, the new equipment has made it much easier for Washington Hospital physicians to diagnose symptoms that could indicate cancer, making sure you are one step closer to the answers and peace of mind.
Breast Health Program
The Hospital brings more innovative technology to the women of the health care district to better serve their needs. In development now, the Breast Health Center, will include resources to perform stereotactic breast biopsies and digital mammograms. The Breast Health Center, under the direction of Dr. Tom Dugoni, Washington Hospital surgeon, will also include lymphedema services to patients who have undergone treatment for breast cancer.
Washington has also enhanced the technology and tools available for physicians to treat women who need to undergo breast biopsies. Stereotactic-guided core needle breast biopsy is fast becoming the standard of care for breast cancer diagnosis. The core needle biopsy procedure is a minimally invasive and virtually painless diagnostic tool that Washington Hospital has made available to the community as part of our ongoing efforts to develop advanced and accessible women's health services. It is as accurate, has fewer complications and costs roughly one third to one half that of open biopsy. The procedure has approval from the Federal Food and Drug Administration and most insurers and Medicare pay for the procedure.
The Hospital also provides access to a state-of-the-art mobile clinic for performing breast health procedures on a regular schedule. Patients are guided through hospital registration and admittance process before being escorted to the procedure area. A digital camera takes a mammogram, sending an image to a computer screen in only five seconds. The computer identifies any abnormalities and tells the physician where to place a special biopsy needle in the breast, under local anesthetic, to remove a small pencil-lead sized core of tissue. A small wire clip can be left in the breast at the site of the biopsy to guide physicians to the site if a follow up open procedure is required for treatment. The three to four millimeter incision is closed with a strip of tape, as no sutures are necessary. A bandage is applied and the patient goes home. The patient spends no time in the operating room and experiences minimal discomfort.
Affordable Health Care
Washington Hospital is committed to ensuring the best possible care to District residents, regardless of their financial status. The Hospital has several programs to help those without the means to access care. The Hospital has a Community Mammogram Program in partnership with Tri-City Health Center and Tiburcio Vasquez Health Center, Inc. to ensure that those without insurance or the ability to pay have access to annual mammograms. Each person is entitled access to quality health care.
Washington Hospital has several women's health care services, including minimally invasive biopsy procedures, diagnostic techniques, educational materials, support groups and community classes for district residents. To learn more about Washington Hospital's women's health programs and classes, call Health Connection at (800) 963-7070.