Professor Arnie Hill, Consultant Breast Surgeon, has been working on his vision to have a stand-alone, dedicated breast clinic in Beaumont Hospital for over a decade.
When he took up his post in 2006, breast services in Beaumont Hospital were in their infancy. It was before the centralisation of breast cancer services and, he recalls, 'there was one clinic a week for both general and breast cancers and the volume of patients attending was enormous'.
For a physician who joined Beaumont Hospital from ‘the very organised and structured’ breast cancer service in St Vincent’s Hospital (and who had worked in the Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Centre in New York before that), he remembers thinking this was crazy. He knew he had much to do.
Speaking about the task of developing a breast cancer service at Beaumont Hospital, he says, “The first thing I did was hire Breast Radiologist, Dr Deirdre Duke, followed quickly by the hire of a second, equally brilliant, radiologist. But it wasn’t long before the second radiologist left. We simply didn’t have the facilities to retain the best people and it was this that made me determined to establish a first class breast cancer service at Beaumont Hospital”.
“But it hasn’t all been plain sailing. Back in 2009, we had the site located and planning permission in place but the project floundered and the planning permission expired before we got underway. We’ve now regrouped, planning permission is in place again and I am super excited that the building work will begin later this yearand the clinic will open to patients in September 2020”.
So what will the new Breast Clinic mean to breast cancer patients at Beaumont Hospital?
"Each year, approx. 9,000 patients attend our Breast Cancer Service on foot of a referral from their GP. Of this number, an average of 400 will receive a cancer diagnosis and will be treated with a personalised treatment plan. However, 8,600 of the women we see will not need cancer treatment and so the onus is there for us to create a non-threatening and harmonious space for all patients.
I am reminded of my time in New York when cosmetics guru, Estée Lauder, was diagnosed with breast cancer. She thought the facility where she was receiving cancer treatment was like an office block and didn’t like being in that environment. So, putting her money and might to good purpose, she transformed the space to become like an Edwardian House with period furniture and fabulous artwork on the walls. I want to create a similar holistic environment in our breast clinic so that women who are well, and those who get a cancer diagnosis, are welcomed to a place that has a wow factor and where they feel they have the full focus of our attention. Everyone deserves to be seen and treated in a better environment than what we are currently able to provide.
I believe that if we are to work efficiently and provide women with a better service, all elements of their care have to be integrated into the one building. The delivery of breast cancer services is about a multidisciplinary team working together and we can do this so much better when we are working under one roof. And, with the help of next generation scanning equipment and the co-ordination of all services from the new building, our team will be able to significantly improve
the care we provide to women with breast issues who are referred to Beaumont Hospital".
How will he measure the success of the new Breast Clinic?
"A recent patient satisfaction survey undertaken in our breast cancer service showed that while patients highly rated the level of medical care they were receiving at Beaumont Hospital, their level of satisfaction with the physical facilities was extremely low. The ultimate success of the new clinic will be measured in improved levels of patient satisfaction and better outcomes.
The new clinic will house consultants, radiologists, imaging, breast care nurses, plastic surgery and our cancer trials unit. And when future patients are referred to the service, they’ll be attending a purpose built, state-of-the art clinic where our complete focus will be on their wellbeing.
And indeed, more integrated care will, in all likelihood, lead to patients needing to make less hospital visits. We need to raise €5million to complete the build of the new clinic. With €4million already committed, we're launching the final drive to raise the last €1million. On average, one in every eight women will have breast cancer. We want to be delivering best-in-class breast cancer services from a custom-built clinic and so providing better outcomes through unified, holistic care to women referred to Beaumont Hospital. To do this, we need the help of every man, woman and child in this community".
For ways in which you can support the Breast Clinic Appeal see https://breastclinicappeal.beaumontfundraising.ie/