Behind the Scenes at EWBC: A Patient’s and Physician’s Perspective
Sometimes it’s hard to imagine what’s going on in a medical office beyond the waiting room—or what a mammogram is like if you’ve never had one, for that matter. Elizabeth Wende Breast Care patient Linda Christ (in italics below) and physician Dr. Stamatia Destounis (bold) offer an inside look into a typical visit to Elizabeth Wende Breast Care.
“I’ve been getting mammograms since I was 40, but five years ago, a family member had a scare. We decided to take her to Elizabeth Wende Breast Care because we’d heard many positive things. I saw how kind they were and how they took care of us, and realized I needed to make a switch myself!
Once I scheduled an appointment, they sent me papers to fill out and provided important information. They also have a patient portal that’s simple to use. They make it a very smooth process—it’s comfortable, you’re treated very kindly and it’s a good experience.”
“After your appointment is made (via online or on the phone), we send you correspondence 45 days in advance that provides instructions and your health history form. When you come to EWBC, your form is reviewed. The health history you provide to EWBC will help determine your risk and what services may be available to you. If you are a new patient to EWBC, your prior mammogram records are obtained so the physicians can compare them with your current mammogram. You also will receive a message reminder two days before your scheduled appointment.
When I come in for an appointment, what stands out to me the most is that someone greets me when I walk in. They sign me in right away and tell me exactly where to check in. EWBC is a personal place—certainly not like another place I received a screening, which was rather cold and very impersonal.
The person behind the front desk is always very friendly as she checks me in. Then I sit and wait about 5 minutes, and a receptionist brings me back to the changing area where I can pick a gown and a locker to store my belongings. Also, if you’re a new patient, you’re greeted by a patient advocate and given an orientation before being brought back to change. During the private orientation, you find out more about the office services and you can ask any questions you may have.
Our mission, along with giving our patients state-of-the-art breast imaging, is to provide compassionate, personalized care. Our staff is available from the moment you contact us to assist with anything you might need.
Next, they let me pick out my own gown and there’s a short wait. It’s so nice–you can have a chair massage (for a fee), tea and coffee, and there’s a jewelry shop (a portion of proceeds are donated to the American Cancer Society). They also have a fish tank, pond, free WiFi and TVs. One TV features information on screenings and procedures, and the other streams HGTV.
As you’re waiting, your prior mammograms are pulled up by the technologist (who also takes the mammogram) while she prepares the mammography room. The mammogram unit is cleaned before each patient and your technologist reviews your prior mammograms and reports before calling you into the room.
When they take me back for my mammogram, the technicians are very professional and make me feel comfortable. It’s simple and supportive. They’re friendly and patient, which helps put your mind at ease. There’s really nothing to be afraid of.
Once you come in the room, it’s truly a partnership with the technologist. She’s communicating with you—you work as a team to get the best picture the first time. You also have the option to choose a traditional or 3D mammogram. The 3D mammogram provides doctors with hundreds of images instead of just one. The mammogram arm rotates in an arc and doesn’t add any more time (or radiation) to the screening.
After your mammogram is completed, you are seated in the waiting room if you want your results that day. I always opt to wait and it’s never very long.
If you have opted to leave, you’re brought back to the changing area after the mammogram is completed. Your results will be mailed to you within 48 hours. If you opt to stay, you have a seat back in the waiting area. Then our technologist sends the images to be read by the doctors on their monitors, and two doctors will review the mammogram. We believe it’s important for two doctors to independently review each screening mammogram.
We also have computer automated detection (CAD), which provides an automated look at the screening, and an automated software that identifies the density of the breast, allowing us to be very objective. New York state law requires us to inform you of your breast density, as you may be eligible for additional procedures or testing.
Finally, after the mammograms are processed by CAD and the breast density software, and read by the doctors, the results are printed out and an assistant reviews them with you.
After waiting a bit, they call me back in the room for the results. Then I get dressed and am good to go! It’s an easy process and a positive thing, really. You’re sitting along with other women, and some of the women come with friends and make a day of it. I’m usually back to work within two hours. They even schedule next year’s appointment for me.
If your screening was normal and you’re 40 or older, we recommend you come back in a year and we’ll schedule the appointment on your behalf.
If there is anything abnormal, extra views are done the same day if you have chosen to wait for your results. More than 80 percent of the issues are resolved with additional views.
If the extra views have not resolved the area in question, an ultrasound with a physician follows. If a patient does need a biopsy, it can be done that day and the patient is called with results by the physician within 24-48 hours of the biopsy. The doctor keeps you informed during the entire process. We strive to keep our patients foremost in this process. That’s why everything necessary can be performed that same day, instead of creating more stress by scheduling additional procedures over a period of days or weeks.
We’re proud of our system of care, and the feedback we receive from our patients affirms that we are exceeding expectations.
For more information or to schedule your appointment visit our Contact Us page.