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.”

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

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