An Image of the Future

Q&A With Peter Jokich, MD, Director of the Regenstein Breast Imaging Center at Rush

Peter Jokich, MD

The Regenstein Breast Imaging Center at Rush, scheduled to open in June 2013, will offer Rush’s breast imaging patients a more soothing, streamlined experience and aid in efficiency for the Rush breast imaging team. Peter Jokich, MD, shares his perspective on the new centers.

What are the key features of the new centers?

We’re building two separate centers in Rush’s Professional Building I: a screening center on the ground floor and a diagnostic center on the seventh floor. Locating our screening center on the ground floor will help make mammography screenings quicker and more convenient. And by separating our two patient populations — those who are at Rush for routine mammograms and those who are here for follow-up or diagnosis of breast cancer — we’re creating patient experiences that are tailored to two very different sets of needs.

Why is now the optimal time for new breast imaging centers at Rush?

Digital mammography has emerged as the new standard for breast imaging, and some other new technologies — including 3-D tomosynthesis and screening ultrasound — are being evaluated to determine their merits. Meanwhile, our growth at Rush in terms of patient volume has surpassed the space limitations of our current center. Now is the perfect time for us to create these two spaces using the latest imaging technologies and equip them to support the use of emerging new technologies down the line if they prove to be safe and effective in screening for and diagnosing breast cancer.

With the Regenstein Breast Imaging Center, we’ll be moving from analog, or film, mammography to digital. What’s the significance?

Digital mammography offers a number of benefits in comparison to analog, or film, mammography. First, it eliminates the expense of purchasing film and processing chemicals, as well as the environmental impact of using, and later disposing of, the chemicals needed to process all of that film. Additionally, it will make it easier and faster for us to share mammography images with other clinicians or to send them from the technologist to the radiologist, without the fear of a patient’s film images being lost or destroyed. Also, our radiologists will be able to manipulate digital images — to change the brightness or contrast, for example — in order to get a clearer picture of the breast, manipulation that just isn’t possible with film.

What sets our team apart?

It’s really the skill and the expertise that sets our team apart. We’ve been designated a Center of Excellence by the American College of Radiology, which really means that we’re accredited in mammography, ultrasound, stereotactic needle biopsy and ultrasound-guided needle biopsy, when many centers are just accredited in mammography. And our technologists and radiologists are just really great at what they do. This is a team who has all been working well together for a long time, most of our radiologists have 15 to 20 years or more of experience, and all of our radiologists specialize in or are specifically trained in breast imaging. At most hospitals, the radiologists who read mammograms also read other kinds of imaging. Our radiologists only do breast imaging; they’ve seen all kinds of cases, they know what to look for, and they’re very skilled at finding the smallest cancers, much earlier than national guidelines anticipate which aids significantly in the survival rate for the patients we screen.

So far, the center has received a naming gift from the Regenstein Foundation and major gifts from the Woman’s Board and Rosemarie and Dean L. Buntrock. What impact does philanthropic support have on your team’s work?

Our need for these new centers arose when the bulk of Rush’s capital resources were dedicated to building and opening the new Tower and upgrading other facilities as part of the Rush Transformation. Without philanthropic support, we literally would not have been able to build these new spaces for our patients. Because of our donors, we can create a more soothing, personalized experience for our patients, screen even more patients, and do it all more quickly and more efficiently.

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