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Kapi‘olani Breast Center

It’s getting easier to be conscientious about breast healthcare—with the opening of the Kapi‘olani Breast Center in May, all the tools women need are now under one roof.


Located on the fifth floor of the Kapi'olani Women's Center building, the Breast Center offers a comprehensive range of breast-related services in one convenient place, consolidating existing Kapi'olani services, such as screening mammograms and surgical treatment, and adding new ones, including genetic testing, plastic surgery and even post-treatment counseling. About the only thing the new center doesn't handle is chemotherapy, which is still done at the Kapi'olani Medical Center.

Noted local philanthropist Sharon Twigg-Smith is a fan. She was undergoing treatment for breast cancer through Kapi'olani's existing breast program when the center opened, and says the all-in-one approach is a big improvement compared with the previously scattered program. "At the time, I was having to hop back and forth between Kapi'olani Hospital and the Women's Center for my different appointments. But by the time I wound up my treatment, the Breast Center was fully functional, and I could get a mammogram and if there was some question about it, we could go just down the hall and talk to a doctor about it. It was just so much more efficient."

Photo: Karin Kovalsky

Indeed, the center, which took three months and more than $10 million to build, was designed with efficiency in mind. Separate halves of the layout are devoted to the two main types of screenings-mammograms for women with no symptoms, and diagnostic tests for those who may need further attention. Digital mammography technology speeds the screening process, and computer-aided diagnosis of mammogram images can actually increase cancer detection by up to 20 percent.

The result is a no-hassle experience for patients. "If you're coming in for your screening mammogram, you should be in and out in 15 minutes," executive director Michelle Meredith says. Even for diagnostic mammograms, patients can expect to get their results immediately, instead of having them mailed, as they usually are.

Meredith says there has also been a conscious effort to create an inviting atmosphere-the décor features warm peach colors and natural wood accents, and the lamps and leather couch in the waiting room make it feel almost like a retreat. "It's designed to make people feel relaxed and comfortable and welcome, so they want to come back," Meredith says. "I don't think people look forward to actually having a mammogram, but if we can at least make the surroundings nice, it's not so clinical."

Some may consider interior decoration to be a frivolous aspect of designing a healthcare facility, but the combination of quick service and cozy couches seems to be working: Meredith says the Kapi'olani Breast Program has a 98 percent patient return rate, and an increasing number of women are coming in for preventive screening.

It's a trend that can save lives. Twigg-Smith credits center medical director Dr. Laura Hoque's proactive attitude with catching her cancer in its early stages. "I was getting mammograms every six months, thanks to Laura. I had a pretty aggressive cancer, so it was a good thing I was getting it every six months, because otherwise it would have been a different story for me."


Breast Center

1907 S. Beretania St.,
Fifth Floor
Phone: 973-5967,
535-7000 Hours: Mon-Sat, 7 a.m. to 6 p.m.

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Honolulu Magazine May 2018
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