The 21st Annual National Interdisciplinary Breast Center Conference is currently being held in Las Vegas. The focus of the conference is to bring together professionals involved with breast health care from across the nation to exchange ideas and to learn about advances and new techniques in providing breast health care to patients. This is the only conference I have ever attended where the focus is not just on nursing but ALL the important roles involved with providing quality breast care. Over and over again it is stressed how the patient is the focus when providing services and care. The pursuit of any accreditation or accolade will not be effective unless the guiding intent is the man or women affected by breast cancer. How refreshing for me as a nurse to hear this. In a time when the “business of healthcare” usually takes precedence during many of these type meetings. No wonder hundreds of breast health care professionals from across the country and internationally attend this conference.
I attended a two day pre conference about how a breast health center can achieve national accreditation for their centers. As health care consumers have become more knowledgeable it is natural for them to demand high quality services. As our health care system becomes more transparent quality care is what is going to be what distinguishes your center from the rest. I cannot wait to carry back to our community the ideas presented so that we can pursue national accreditation. Thankfully, we are already doing many of the suggested activities in our community but there is always room for improvement.
Sunday March 13th is when the meeting formally started and how exciting to be a part of this audience. The tone of the meeting was set and it was exciting to hear the speakers. The future of health care talk was presented by a representative and senior advisor to Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger who has recently been appointed as a new regional director of the US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) under HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius. The regional directors will play a vital role in the implementation of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. What a great discussion about how this massive change will impact health care for all of us.
The next speaker was a breast cancer survivor who spoke to the group about her personal journey and how her providers played such an important role in her recovery. She reaffirmed how important her providers were and gave some insight into areas where we can help. This survivor talked about how her diagnosis redirected and sharpened her life focus almost immediately. Life priorities shifted almost immediately. Although she would not say that her cancer was a blessing it helped her to “reclaiming your best personal positive”.
To be able to participate and help a patient through this incredibly painful and challenging time and see them come through it is a privilege and incredibly rewarding as a cancer care provider for twenty four years, I have not always been able to see this. I guess that is what is so wonderful about my current position as breast health navigator at Sarasota Memorial Healthcare System.
The last speakers of the day were two well respected professionals discussing the issue of screening mammography. The Ned Calonge, chairman of the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) and Dr Jay R. Parikh, past president of the NCBC carefully and thoughtfully laid out the rationales of their prospective views of this topic. The USPSTF made up of health care professionals looked at the evidence before them and made recommendations that Dr Calonge acknowledged were not communicated as effectively as they could have been. Dr Calonge also acknowledged that the task force was not aware that the health care reform bill was going to be passed and that how their recommendations of grade “C” would affect coverage decisions by Medicare and other private insurers. Dr Jay R. Parikh then began outlining the importance and benefits in the 40-49 age group of breast health screening. He made the point of how these early stage breast cancers led to positive outcomes and translated into lives saved. He brought the point in more personal as reminding us how these were our mothers, sisters, and dear friends lives saved. The “anxiety” the task force alluded to was bearable if it meant a mother could be alive to be with her children. Dr Parikh also urged that we do not go back and halt the progress obviously made in detection but taking this current guideline away. Wow, how you could hear a pin drop in this room.
Believe me, there were other speakers but the above ones I mentioned really touched me and I am excited for the rest of this week. As uncomfortable it is for me to be away from normal routines and family, this is a great time to validate why I chose this profession.
I am headed back to class but before I go I also want everyone to know how well represented Sarasota Florida is at this conference. Our very own Cristi Radford, certified genetic counselor had her poster and abstract accepted for display at the conference. Her poster is entitled “Not all genetic professionals are created equal: What an administrator needs to know when selecting a candidate” represents well the distinctions of a quality genetics evaluation.
The Breast Investigators are visible and are represented by Angela Long and Sherry Cushing. They are sharing their Facebook for breast cancer website. How exciting to see the response from the conference attendees to this wonderful patient resource. The booth is very cool and Sarasota breast cancer survivors you are represented so well!
Susan Beausang and her talented assistant Michelle Young from 4 Women.com Inc. are also here with their beautiful display of Beaubeau head scarves. 4 Women.com’s mission to help women and girls cope with the emotional upheaval of medical hair loss with dignity and confidence is beautifully and stylishly communicated through their eye catching booth and resource materials available.
Finally, I am here to represent our community and learn what I can about patient navigation and the nursing implications of quality breast health care. I will look forward to bringing back what I have learned to our community. Stay tuned Sarasota BI for more updates from this great conference event.