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Rae Fawcett Breast Health Clinic

Royal Inland Hospital

When it took three months from discovering a lump in Liz Ewart’s breast to the diagnosis of her breast cancer, she learned firsthand how the system of breast cancer diagnosis at Royal Inland Hospital (RIH) was rarely meeting its breast health targets.

And after her diagnosis, Liz experienced how women were often left unsupported over the course of their breast health journey. Even for a seasoned health care professional – Liz is a family physician – there were challenges navigating a complex system without support.

Liz’s story was the impetus behind the Rae Fawcett Breast Health Clinic, which opened in Kamloops in May 2017. At the clinic, women are offered a triple assessment in a single day, meaning that they have breast medical imaging, see the clinic nurse and physician, receive results from their imaging, and are offered a same-day, ultrasound-guided core needle biopsy if required. Thanks to this “one-stop shopping,” the clinic now consistently meets or exceeds referral-to-diagnosis targets for all cases requiring an ultrasound-guided core needle biopsy.

The Rae Fawcett Breast Health Clinic team

Education plays a prominent role in the clinic, from teaching patients about the biopsy process to discussing diagnoses and what they can expect during their treatments. Each patient is given a curated book that is customized to their individual diagnosis and features evidence-based resources. Patient experience feedback has been extremely positive – in a recent, random survey, 97% of patients said that they were satisfied with their overall care.

Creating the clinic required support from numerous stakeholders. The Thompson Region Division of Family Practice lobbied for the clinic, helped obtain start-up funding and engaged local family physicians. Interior Health guided the clinic’s creation, from leading a patient journey mapping session to gathering key stakeholders. Multiple departments within RIH helped plan and create care processes.

The RIH Foundation and community fundraising efforts raised over $1.5 million to support the project. Volunteers were engaged to physically travel the patient care path to provide feedback and further refine the process. And RIH supported Liz as the clinic’s physician lead; she helped to guide the project, even as she was undergoing treatments including chemotherapy and surgeries for 15 months of its 24-month planning period.

Recently, the clinic’s mandate expanded to accept referrals for work-up and treatment of benign breast disease. The news is no surprise, as the clinic is improving care and the patient experience for breast health patients throughout the Thompson-Cariboo-Shuswap region.