A mammography screening test can be a stressful and emotional experience.
It’s always unnerving to hearing those words “we are looking for cancer” with any medical test.
So along with adding a new digital diagnostic imaging unit for Kelowna General Hospital, the staff wanted to go one step further and create a more calming and spacious environment to assist both patients and the lab techs.
“Getting a mammography test seems to be different type of exam because the only thing we are looking for is cancer, and it can be very emotional for women because breasts are part of their identity,” said Cindy Stratychuk, lead mammography technician at KGH.
“So we wanted to make it a less clinical experience and more comfortable to go through.”
The end result is the completion of an $800,000 makeover of the mammography room, started with the addition of the new diagnostic machine last February and the new mammography room design itself completed in October.
Pamela Hoeschle, KGH manager for diagnostic imaging, said the project broke down as $400,000 for the mammography test unit, paid for by the provincial screening mammography program, and the room upgrade costing a further $400,000.
The room renovations included expansion of the previous space set aside for mammography exams, raising the ceiling, new design elements intended to create a calming atmosphere, providing an adequate power source and the cost to move the unit from a temporary to the new permanent location in October and have it re-accredited for accuracy.
Other enhancements beyond just a larger lab space include an art sculpture rendering on the ceiling, positive messaging on the walls, two digital TV photo display screens, a photo collage of hospital workers’ pets and a flamboyant feather boa and bra having on an inside door hook.
“The efficiency of going from the old mammography unit system of using film to digital imaging has been just amazing. The resolution from the digital images are so much higher quality and detail,” Hoeschle said.
She added the immediacy of sharing information on file at the Penticton and Vernon hospitals mammography units is also significantly enhanced.
Kelowna and Williams Lake were the last two medical locations within the Interior Health region to make the mammography unit switch from film to digital.
Hoeschle said the immediacy of sharing information on file at the Penticton and Vernon hospitals mammography units is also significantly enhanced.
In the previous mammography set-up, Stratychuk said besides the now outdated film equipment, the room was smaller which presented safety and emotional comfort issues.
She said it was uncomfortable for patients because they would be left alone while the techs were in another room developing the film, and the techs had to be careful to not trip over something, especially if the patient was brought in for a test on a hospital bed.
“Now the images appear on a screen and a patient is never left alone so that is a nice change,” Stratychuk said.
The KGH mammography unit deals only with referrals, whereas Penticton and Vernon hospitals both deal with initial screenings and followup referrals.
The KGH unit will see about 80 to 100 women tested a month, and on average one man.
Hoeschle said patients from across the region are able to have tests done at KGH, noting that even one patient came in from Chilliwack as she was receiving treatment from the Southern Interior cancer centre located on the west end of the hospital complex.