Generous, anonymous donor improves health care for North Island women

A Comprehensive Breast Health Program has been launched at St. Joseph’s General Hospital to dramatically change breast health care.


A Comprehensive Breast Health Program has been launched at St. Joseph’s General Hospital to dramatically change breast health care for women residing in the Comox Valley and northern Vancouver Island.

“This progress we have made to date is part of a greater vision of changing the way women with breast problems experience care,” said Dr. Astrope. “From screening and diagnosis to biopsy and post-procedural support, this model is designed to make the patient feel empowered with accelerated access to expert care and enhanced interaction with the medical team so that they become active partners in their own breast health and treatment options.”

Most recently, new equipment has been installed and staff trained on the Stereotactic Biopsy System and a CoreVision System. Combined, these two essential pieces of equipment will allow the medical breast care team to perform biopsies and to conduct radiographic tissue analysis. Women have had to leave the Comox Valley in the past to obtain stereotactic biopsies.

Benefits of using the stereotactic system include:
• Increased precision of information leading to better accuracy in sampling for a biopsy;

• Less-invasive than surgical biopsy and sometimes may even reduce the need for surgery;

• Higher accuracy of pathology reports;
• Can be performed within an hour in an outpatient setting;

• Less travel time for patients of the North Island.

The funds for this new high-tech equipment and for the renovations and educational enhancements came from a donation to the hospital by a family in the Comox Valley who saw a need to enhance breast care and education.

“So much of the hospital’s history started in answer to a need,” the anonymous donor commented. “A gift from a patient’s family that led to the development of the cancer care area was started from a need in 2007. This too is the beginning of an answer for a need in our community; to deliver comprehensive, caring and enhanced breast care from the routine procedures through to the much-needed investigative and surgical care.”

This very generous gift has allowed St. Joseph’s to make significant improvements for women with breast health issues. The work completed to date cost $190,000 and includes enhancements to diagnosis and treatment, improving physical environment and emphasis on education and patient involvement in their case is truly exciting.

The vision of the breast care program is to change the way women with breast problems experience care through a compassionate, comprehensive and seamless model of service. The additional of stereotactic biopsy services along with improved physical environment and more emphasis on education and patient involvement in their care is a key part of achieving this larger vision.

The hospital foundation raises money for equipment and renovations that are not funded through Vancouver Island Health Authority. If you or your organization would like to support this program or would like more information contact Lynn at the Foundation office at 250-890-3046 or visit the website at
— St. Joseph’s General Hospital Foundation

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