By: Cindy Miller, RN, CN-BN, Breast Program Coordinator, Tri-Cities Cancer Center
My experience working with breast cancer patients began over 11 years ago when I began facilitating the Breast Cancer Support Group at the Cancer Center. I have met so many wonderful people and it has truly been enlightening. One thing that became painfully obvious in those early days was the lack of services provided for breast patients in the region.
Moving forward…Four years ago, the Cancer Center was approached by Dr. Laurie Evans with the concept of becoming a Breast Center of Excellence. We knew it would take a great deal of work, time and the cooperation of all three of our owner hospitals (Kadlec, Lourdes Health and Trios Health) and many professionals involved in breast care. Among other things, the Cancer Center offered my services as a dedicated Breast Patient Navigator and Program Coordinator.
Wanting to feel adequate for the task, I obtained my certification as a Breast Patient Navigator and started attending national conferences focused on breast health. There were many times I felt discouraged. Programs were discussed at a conference and I’d think, “We don’t have that.” However, each year, I could see we were coming closer and closer to a program worthy of comparison to major centers in the country.
Now that we have successfully completed the huge hurdle of becoming a Nationally Accredited Program for Breast Centers (NAPBC), it feels like a great accomplishment, however, we are not resting on our laurels. With our original goal in mind, this amazing team of providers has committed to continued improvements including: more timely care, multidisciplinary case review for all breast patients, hiring a Nurse Practitioner for Survivorship Clinic and more. Tri-Cities Cancer Center has committed to do what it takes to become a Breast Center of Excellence and I’m proud to be a part of it.
When I attended the NAPBC conference this year, I was able to say over and over, “We’ve got that!” In fact, the recent NAPBC review indicated several aspects of our program were deemed “worthy of Best Practices recognition.” I can honestly look at a patient and say, “You have a wonderful team working for you,” and rest assured these patients will receive excellent, compassionate care right here in our community.
I would like to thank each of the breast cancer patients, men and women, who have provided me with an invaluable education over the years. With each life and story shared, you are my inspiration!
What is NAPBC?
The NAPBC is a consortium of professional organizations dedicated to the improvement of the quality of care and monitoring of outcomes of patients with diseases of the breast. This mission is pursued through standard-setting, scientific validation, and patient and professional education. Its board membership includes professionals from 20 national organizations that reflect the full spectrum of breast care.
Receiving care at a NAPBC-accredited center ensures that a patient will have access to:
• Comprehensive care, including a full range of state-of-the-art services
• A multidisciplinary team approach to coordinate the best treatment options
• Information about ongoing clinical trials and new treatment options
• And, most importantly – Quality breast care close to home
For more information about the National Accreditation Program for Breast Centers, visit their website at www.accreditedbreastcenters.org.