Coastal Maine Center for Breast Health, part of the radiology department at Waldo County General Hospital, is now a Certified Quality Breast Center of Excellence, the highest level of certification by the National Quality Measures for Breast Cancer (NQMBC).

“This is a marker for us; a recognition for the community,” says Dr. Nancy Webb, a radiologist who has specialized in women’s breast health for the past 15 years. “We wanted the community to know that we do quality work.”

Getting that designation was the result of efforts and support by a number of people. First, there was the task force of all those involved with breast health, including surgeons, primary care doctors and oncology staff. That formed four years ago. The goal was to coordinate efforts and to get recognition for the quality work that was taking place.

The group wanted to compare its efforts with those of similar sized hospitals and NQMBC seemed the way to do that based on its mission “to empower breast centers of all types and sizes with the ability to measure and improve quality of care provided to breast center patients.” They do that by identifying quality care measures, providing immediate access to information and allowing breast centers to compare their performance with other centers across the United States.

In January 2007, Dr. Webb returned to WCGH where she was a staff radiologist from 1995 to 1998. She had spent several of the intervening years as director of women’s imaging for The Breast Care Center and Cape Cod Radiology Associates in Hyannis, Mass. In March 2007, the imaging department upgraded its mammography to digital. That was done, not because of the task force which hadn’t even formed yet, but because, according to Ann Hooper RTR(M), head of the imaging department, “We were keeping up with good techniques and standards of care.”

Ann Hooper and Dr. Webb recognized that the department was “already doing most of the things it needed to do to be a Center of Excellence” so they pushed to increase the quality a little bit and to get the recognition the department deserved.

In March 2011, Ann Hooper RTR(M) and Dr. Webb headed to the 21st annual National Interdisciplinary Breast Center Conference in Arizona. When they returned, Hooper was a certified Breast Cancer Navigator and Dr. Webb had completed an Assuring Quality Breast Program.

In June 2011, Kim Lenfestey, LMSW, was hired as the hospital’s first breast care navigator. In that position she helps breast cancer patients and their families to navigate through the maze of healthcare options, from diagnosis to survivorship. She is also available for support to women who are fearful of developing breast cancer based on family history. She has been instrumental in providing Telegenetic counseling for all oncology patients at the hospital.

Another member of the mammography team is Danielle Wight, RTR(M), the radiology team leader for mammography. She is responsible for keeping the necessary data for NQMBC and making sure all state regulations are adhered to. Mammography is heavily regulated and a recent state inspection found absolutely no problems, which is unusual. Hooper says: “Not even any little dings. That’s Danielle. It really is a team.”

For her part, Danielle says, “I’m proud to be part of a team that does such a good job and is recognized for quality care.” She helps Dr. Webb coordinate education sessions with the nine registered mammography technicians in the imaging department to keep them up to date on any proposed changes and to reinforce good techniques.

Other members of the team include Radiologists Dr. Gregory Grotz and Dr. Tom Jones, the general surgeons and the oncology department. Hooper says they are also fortunate to have the support of the administration to work toward becoming a Center of Excellence.

“I’m proud to have this certification,” says Hooper. “It reinforces that we provide a community service and gives us good accountability.”