The University of Virginia’s new Breast Care Center brings almost all of UVA’s breast care services under one roof and makes treatment and preventative care more convenient and accessible, right down to the easy, free parking.
Located right off Interstate 64 and U.S. 250 at 652 Peter Jefferson Parkway, the 18,500-square-foot center will allow patients to meet with their entire care team in one appointment, including specialists in surgical oncology, medical oncology, plastic surgery, radiology, physical medicine and rehabilitation and genetics. Previously, many of these services and specialties had been located in different buildings across the UVA Health complex, making it more difficult for patients to access care and for providers to coordinate with each other.
Though other UVA imaging sites remain open, the Breast Care Center also offers a full range of breast imaging services, including 3-D mammography, image-guided breast procedures, 3-D breast ultrasound and bone density scanning, as well as infusion treatments, lymphedema and cancer survivorship clinics, laboratory testing, clinical trials, supportive care services and an outpost of the Flourish boutique, designed for patients facing cancer treatment. The center is also equipped to provide telemedicine services, and to videoconference with other offices and specialists at UVA.
About a week after the center opened on Oct. 12, we spoke with three doctors instrumental in its planning: surgical oncologist Dr. Shayna Showalter, the center’s director and medical director of surgical services; Dr. Carrie Rochman, medical director of imaging services; and Dr. Christiana Brenin, medical director of medical oncology. They were thrilled with what they have seen so far.
Q. As you were planning the center, what patient needs did you see and hope to fulfill?
Showalter: We had all of the services available, but we were somewhat fractured in terms of how those services were provided. The biggest issue was simply not all being in the same space. Having colleagues from multiple specialties in the same space really improves patient care and patient convenience. I can talk with a colleague about a patient in the moment, and quickly add patients to a colleague’s schedule. I have done that so many times since we have opened.
Brenin: We knew it would be more efficient and easier for patients to have different specialties under one roof, providing care simultaneously. Patients were also telling us that an offsite location away from the hospital would be more convenient, especially for parking. Finally, we wanted to emphasize that this is not only a cancer center, but a combined center for breast health, including both preventative care and treatment.
Q. What are you most excited for patients to experience at the new center?
Brenin: I think patients will enjoy the easy parking and convenience, and come into their appointments more relaxed. It is a big, bright, open space with lots of windows, which truly makes a difference in how patients feel. I am also excited to have patients get multiple services very efficiently. Recently, for example, I had a patient who needed to see a surgeon quickly, and I was able get her set up with another specialist just down the hall.
Showalter: The response has been great so far, and patients have told us that they are very happy with the convenience, and with how nice the space is. Personally, I have also loved having colleagues in different specialties just a few doors away. It is very helpful for our patients and for us as providers.
Rochman: We also have numerous support services on site, including an on-site social worker, nutritionist, massage therapy and the Flourish boutique, which focuses on products that help breast cancer patients feel their best and recover well, including wigs, prostheses or specially designed bras.
Q. You came together as an all-female leadership team, with a lot of combined experience in different aspects of breast care. How did your combined experiences help you plan the center?
Showalter: It has been great to work with Dr. Brenin and Dr. Rochman. It has been very easy, because we have such a trusting relationship, and because I know that they are at the top of their game, and experts in their areas. We have always worked together to take care of patients, and now we have been able to work on this massive, exciting project together.
Brenin: The three of us have been working together for at least eight years, in some cases longer. I have been at UVA for 18 years. We know and respect each other and work together very well. I have been amazed at how smoothly the opening has gone, given the amount of coordination involved. It’s been wonderful to see it come together.
Q. You have emphasized the center’s convenience and efficiency. How will that help promote preventative care and early detection?
Rochman: We have always offered convenient screening options, including a mobile van equipped with imaging equipment, but the new center offers another very convenient place for patients to do screening and preventative care, with a full complement of breast care services.
Brenin: Patients will also have access to clinical trials, which sets the center apart from others in the region. Whatever trials are accessible at the UVA Emily Couric Clinical Cancer Center will also be accessible here.