Sutter Santa Rosa retools breast care center, updates equipment

  • Dr. Arnold Honick, medical director of the Sutter Pacific Medical Foundation Breast Center, looks over mammograms in the reading room, in Santa Rosa, on Tuesday, March 5, 2013.

    (Christopher Chung/ The Press Democrat)

In a darkened room with charcoal black walls, Dr. Arnold Honick and other radiologists examine the white "densities" of the female breast using the latest imaging technologies, such as 3-D tomosynthesis.

The lights in the room are usually turned off for a clearer interpretation of the images on several large flat-screen monitors. A low-tech, wall-mounted X-ray light box, an anachronism amid digital wonders, casts just enough light for radiologists to move about safely.

This is one of three "reading rooms" at Sutter Pacific Medical Foundation's new Breast Care Center, which opened in late February at the ever-expanding Sutter Health Plaza on the north end of Airway Drive in Santa Rosa. It is where Sutter specialists, using the latest imaging technology, begin waging their medical battle against breast cancer and other breast health issues.

The center's 3-D mammography unit, which Sutter says is the only one of its kind in Sonoma County, is just one of several new imaging devices at the Breast Care Center. It allows radiologists to get a fuller spatial view of the internal geography of the breast, and its value cannot be understated, said Honick, the medical director of the Breast Care Center.

The unit decreases the "recall rate," where patients are called back for more imaging to get a better view of suspected trouble spots, he said.

"With this, I can feel confident that it's nothing," Honick said.

The Breast Care Center was formerly housed at the Sutter Women's Health Resource Center on Steele Lane in Santa Rosa, which used to be a 24 Hour Fitness facility. Sutter is considering administrative uses for the building, such as accounting or information technology.

The breast care facility at Sutter Health Plaza is adjacent to Sutter's new Advanced Imaging Center, a combined 10,700-square-foot facility that cost $10 million to build.

The two centers share some imaging equipment, such as a new wide-bore MRI scanner that is similar to Memorial Hospital's $3 million wide-bore scanner, though with a few more bells and whistles. Sutter's new MRI room is equipped with a "caring suite" that uses personalized lighting, music and video designed to help patients feel more comfortable.

While the two centers share some equipment, the Breast Care Center was specially designed to maximize patient privacy. It has a separate waiting room, lounge and a private dressing room.

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