In less than two years, the Breast Care Centre at St. Joseph’s Hospital has significantly cut wait times for patients facing breast cancer while also doubling the number of patients being assessed at the centre.
Since 2010, when the centre was created, the wait from the time of diagnosis to breast cancer surgery has dropped from 16 weeks to 10 weeks, with work ongoing to further reduce wait times.
“This is a tremendous achievement and a direct result of bringing together our dynamic interdisciplinary breast care team of surgeons, radiologists, medical radiation technologists, nurse navigators, advanced practice nurses, social workers, and others in one specially-designed location to focus on the best in breast care,” says Karen Perkin, vice president, acute and ambulatory, professional practice/ chief nurse executive. “Much work has been done by this team and with our care partners to improve access for patients and smooth the care journey.”
Those efforts include:
- A one-number central referral process. A nurse practitioner reviews all new referrals, triages them and books the appropriate appointments to streamline access to care and reduce wait times for women most in need.
- Same day imaging and biopsy so that patients with an abnormal mammogram screening receive the necessary imaging and breast biopsy in one day.
- Expanded hours for breast imaging to accommodate more patients each day. Currently about 110 patients receive breast imaging daily at the centre.
- A multidisciplinary approach, including nurse navigators and advanced practice nurses who help coordinate care from the time an abnormality is detected throughout the care journey.
St. Joseph’s Breast Care Centre is the primary location for breast imaging, diagnostic and surgery services in London. The purpose of amalgamating these services at St. Joseph’s was to improve access and coordination of care, education and support for those requiring breast care. Currently, about 23,000 mammograms, 7,200 breast ultrasounds, 700 breast MRI scans, and 50 MRI-guided breast biopsies are performed each year at the Breast Care Centre, along with about 850 breast surgical procedures.