CMMC nearing two goals with 3D mammography

Friday, August 30, 2019
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Medical Center Foundation Director Ann Tuss, Radiology Technician Marita Heggem, Director of Ancillary Services Rick Poss, and General Surgeon and Program Director Dr. Scott Smith are part of the united team to bring a nationally standardized level of care to CMMC.

Photo by Miriam Campan

With a matching grant from Town Pump for $25,000, the realization of a 3D mammography machine is well within reach for the Central Montana Medical Center.

According to Ann Tuss, director of the Medical Center Foundation, “Our goal is to raise $350,000 and Town Pump recently gave us a $25,000 matching pledge.” 

Tuss is hopeful of raising the matching $25,000 by the deadline of Oct. 1, with the community’s support.

The project has already attracted a great deal of interest. Other contributors toward the goal include Norman Asbjornson, who donated $100,000, a $20,000 grant from the Medical Center Foundation, and a donation from CMMC Auxiliary of $2,000; all helping hit the overall fundraising goal of spring, 2020.

Tuss said, “We are rock solid steady with our fundraising.”

Dr. Scott Smith, general surgeon and program director for the breast program, explained the current 2D technology available at CMMC and why 3D imaging is critical for the early detection of breast cancer. 

“A 2D mammography basically involves four images of the breast, two on each side. 3D is 300 images  assimilated into one. With 3D, the cancer detection rate is twice as effective as compared to 2D,” he said.

Smith added, “Statistics have demonstrated that one in eight women will be diagnosed with breast cancer. It is not a rare disease and nearly everyone has either been affected or knows someone who has been affected.”

A recently published brochure from the Medical Center Foundation further explained the vision for CMMC.

“3D Mammography technology has become the standard. CMMC works to ensure the best technology available to rural critical access hospitals as part of its patient care.”

Towards this effort, CMMC is actively recruiting for a radiologist.

Smith said, “We are still doing imaging, however, it is currently being read by a breast radiologist in Billings.”

Director of Ancillary Services Rick Poss added, “We are actively recruiting and are working closely with Billings Clinic to find someone.” 

In addition to bringing 3D technology to the fight against breast cancer, CMMC is seeking to be listed with the National Accreditation Program for Breast Standards. 

The NAPBS website cited the criteria for caregivers, which Dr. Smith outlined.

Smith said, “The NAPBC is a program that endeavors to standardize breast cancer care. Every center in the accreditation program upholds the same standards as nationally known medical facilities. It’s a holistic approach that involves screening, surgical care, chemotherapy, radiation care, physical therapy and support for the psycho-social components.”

A component already in place towards the holistic approach is the patient navigator for the breast and cancer center, RN Amy D’Autremont. 

“In her role, she assists patients from the time of their diagnosis to the completion of their treatment,” Smith said. 

Poss added, “We are leaning towards a women’s health center. Ultimately we want to make the environment a more comfortable experience. We want to house all of the radiographic equipment that goes into women’s health in a confined suite that doesn’t have high traffic through it.”

Smith recommends a mammogram for women after age 40, to be conducted on an annual basis, with high-risk patients even more frequently.

“The earlier breast cancer is diagnosed the more treatable it is. Screening often allows us to identify precancerous lesions, such as ductocarcinoma in situ, allowing surgical intervention prior to the development of invasive cancer,” Smith said.