Olympic Medical Center spends $1.3 million on mammography equipment

By Rob Ollikainen
Peninsula Daily News

PORT ANGELES — Olympic Medical Center has made a $1.3 million investment in high-tech mammography.

Hospital commissioners Wednesday approved the purchase of three Hologic 3-D mammography tomosynthesis machines for the early detection of breast cancer.

The 3-D units will replace the two-dimensional instruments that OMC has used for the past four years.

The new technology will provide better images and reduce the need for follow-up exams, hospital officials said.

“We think this will be a tremendous advance in technology for mammography offered at Olympic Medical Center,” said Dr. Scott Kennedy, chief medical officer.

“With 3-D imaging of the breast, we expect the need for repeat exams to go down, but we also expect to have an increased earlier finding of issues of concern of the breast, which could lead to necessary interventions depending on what’s found.”

OMC had already budgeted $1.4 million for the three mammo machines and two associated reading stations for radiologists. The old units will be traded in.

Installation of the new units will begin in mid-January. The machines will be up and running in the first quarter of next year, Kennedy said.

“We will be the first on the [North Olympic] Peninsula, and the only one on the Peninsula, to offer this technology,” Kennedy added.

OMC will station the 3-D units at the hospital and imaging center in Port Angeles and cancer center in Sequim.

“This is a big deal to the cancer center to have this level of detection,” OMC Chief Executive Officer Eric Lewis said.

“The equipment is one thing, but the key goal is to make sure women in our community get timely mammography so if there’s any cancer, it’s detected early and hopefully cured.”

The 3-D machines have a device that moves around the breast to capture high-resolution images in 1-millimeter layers.

A 3-D mammogram is similar to a CT scan. Two-dimensional mammography is akin to an X-ray, Kennedy said.

Advance in technology

“It’s quite an advance in technology,” Kennedy said.

Interim Director of Diagnostic Imaging John Troglia has said many hospitals in the Seattle area have already switched to 3-D mammography.

Commissioner Jim Leskinovitch said the 3-D units will enhance patient satisfaction and quality of care.

“The other thing is we have an outflow of people getting this in the Seattle area, so it’s actually good for the hospital financially,” he said.

“Nobody will have to travel to get to this level of service.”

A financial analysis predicted that OMC will have a “positive bottom line with this new 3-D imaging,” Kennedy said.

The 3-D units come with a one-year warranty followed by a four-year, $190,999-per-year maintenance agreement.

The life expectancy of the 3-D machines is seven to eight years, Lewis said.

“I think this is a sufficiently significant leap in the technology that it’s going to wear well,” Commissioner John Beitzel said.

“It won’t be obsolete in two years or something.”

Design contracts

In other board action Wednesday, commissioners approved $253,597 in design contracts for an expanded emergency room. OMC plans to extend its existing ER to the south, adding 2,800 square feet, seven beds and five secure rooms to the hospital.

“That would bring us up to 21 beds [in the ER],” Chief Nursing Officer Lorraine Wall said.

The estimated cost of the expansion is $2.3 million.

“We would hope to have a finished design by April,” Wall said.

Construction is scheduled to begin next summer, and the expansion will be finished by March 2015, Wall said.

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Reporter Rob Ollikainen can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 5072, or at rollikainen@peninsuladailynews.com.

Last modified: December 19. 2013 5:57PM
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