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Valley Regional Medical Center earns accolade for breast cancer care

October 1, 2018

Breast cancer patients who might travel to large cities for treatment can now find the same care at Valley Regional Medical Center in Brownsville. The hospital was designated a Breast Imaging Center of Excellence by the American College of Radiology in September, a status that took the facility more than a year of work to achieve.

Chief Operating Officer Michael La Coste said the distinction is the “gold standard” in breast cancer care.

“ Our local community has the option for women’s breast care here, and they don’t have the need to travel to San Antonio or Houston,” he said.

October is National Breast Cancer Awareness Month. The American Cancer Society projects that 266,120 cases of breast cancer will be diagnosed in 2018.

Jerry Hatley, director of Imaging Services, said the distinction is awarded based on the hospital’s level of image quality and safety. Valley Regional Medical Center is the first hospital in the Valley to achieve the status, he added, which involved investing in the best equipment and medical staff training available.

“ It’s a lot of work by a lot of folks,” he said. “We know the earlier you catch breast cancer, the higher the survival rate.”

The hospital has earned accreditation in mammography, breast ultrasound and stereotactic breast biopsy. The latter allows physicians to use a small needle to extract breast tissue that will be sent to a pathologist, La Coste explained, and is less invasive than biopsies that required a larger piece of the breast to be removed.

Valley Regional Medical Center also has mammogram radiolucent breast cushions, which reduce discomfort during mammograms, and MRI breast imaging.

Both he and Hatley said there is still work to be done in educating the community about the importance of annual mammograms for women 40 and older.

Valley Regional Medical Center will host its annual Positively Pink Girls Night Out from 5:30-9 p.m. Thursday. La Coste said the event will feature a breast cancer survivor as its keynote speaker, information on breast cancer genetic testing, massages and manicures.

The hospital will also offer mammograms at the reduced cost of $60, though La Coste noted that those with insurance will likely be completely covered. The hospital also offers extended weekday and weekend hours.

“ The mammogram is the heart of the breast imaging program,” Dr. Guillaume Boiteau, a radiologist, said. “All the others are there to support or refine what mammography started initially. Brownsville is not the biggest city in Texas, but we have the same quality as larger cities.”

Learn more about the hospital’s Girls Night Out by contacting Mariana Tumlinson, director of Community and Public Relations, at (956) 350-7745.

nadia@brownsvilleherald.com

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