In just one year since opening, the Breast Center at St. Catherine Hospital has been awarded accreditation by the National Accreditation Program for Breast Centers.

The National Accreditation Program for Breast Centers (NAPBC) recently notified St. Catherine about the accreditation. There are only four other Kansas breast centers that are NAPBC-accredited — one each in Shawnee Mission and Olathe and two in Overland Park.

The Breast Center is located in the Legacy House, 309 E. Walnut St. Services include digital mammography, ultrasound, breast MRI, stereotactic needle biopsy, genetic evaluation, testing and management, lumpectomy, mastectomy, lymph node biopsy and surgery, plastic surgery, oncology consultation and treatment at Heartland Cancer Center, lymphedema evaluation and treatment, patient education and support groups, smoking-cessation guidance, access to wigs and prostheses, and evaluation and management of benign breast disease.

“This accreditation clearly illustrates we are dedicated to recognizing patient needs and going the extra mile to serve them,” Heather Wright-Renick, breast program coordinator and nurse navigator, said. “Patients can receive their care, which is proven to meet national standards, while remaining close to home.”

Wright-Renick noted that seeking the accreditation was not only important to her professionally, but also personally.

“As a recent breast cancer patient, I wanted to receive the care I needed right here in Garden City,” she said. “More importantly, I want every patient to have access to the best care available without having to drive several hours to get it.”

According to Wright-Renick, a huge need exists in southwest Kansas.

“Leave a Legacy helped bring digital mammography to Garden City and provided SCH with a Midwest Cancer Alliance membership,” she said. “MCA provides clinical trial availability, second-opinion access and genetic counseling.”

MCA is the outreach arm of The University of Kansas Cancer Center.

Lisa Beggs, nurse navigator and clinical trials nurse, works hand-in-hand with the Breast Center team.

“We formed a Breast Friends support group that meets the second Wednesday of every month,” Wright-Renick said. “Lisa and I spend a lot of time in our local communities talking about breast health and the importance of our program. We also work with Early Detection Works to provide education and services to our uninsured/underinsured patients.”

Dr. Matthew Byrnes, breast program medical director, surgeon and chief medical officer, and Scott Taylor, St. Catherine CEO, provided the “support, leadership, expertise and passion to make our goal a reality,” Wright-Renick said.

“This accreditation process is extremely rigorous,” Byrnes said. “We demonstrated strict adherence to national guidelines, which means we demonstrate the same level of breast care that larger institutions deliver.”

The center’s two nurses serve a vital role in coordinating patient care, he said, and are committed to rapid evaluation of patients with breast complaints.

“We understand women are anxious when they notice a lump, and the last thing they want is long delays,” he said.

Breast cancer has touched the life of virtually everyone in some way, Byrnes said, noting SCH is gratified to be able to care for women during a difficult time.

“Breast cancer treatment often requires numerous doctors’ appointments over the course of a year,” he said. “If women travel for hours each way for every appointment, their treatment can be markedly more difficult. Our Breast Center saves them from this stress.”