Please, don’t call it a spa, but PeaceHealth Southwest Medical Center’s Kearney Breast Center is designed to be warm and soft.
“It’s supposed to be very comforting and elegant,” said Kearney Center’s interim manager, Kathleen Pyper. “We don’t want that clinical feel or for this to be a scary thing. It’s not supposed to be like a place where you can get a massage and facial, but it’s supposed to give a calming sense of peace.”
Whether it’s the artwork on the walls or the Kearney Center’s 20 accommodating staffers, Pyper said, the mission of the center, which opened in summer 2009, is to guide people through breast cancer and “make them feel ease about it,” she explained.
PeaceHealth’s breast center has been around in some form for 20 years, but a decade ago PeaceHealth expanded its breast care operation and created the Kearney Center, which now conducts 300 mammograms a month, about double the amount performed a decade ago, said Pyper, who has been involved in the breast care center for 20 years.
According to a Columbian article published when the center opened in July 2009, the building features a design that is sensitive to patients. It cost $5.7 million to construct the 12,000-square-foot center, and Vancouver philanthropists Lee and Connie Kearney, a breast cancer survivor herself, donated $2.5 million to the project. The center is named for the Kearneys.
The Kearney Breast Center offers on-site mammograms, pathology, surgery, radiation oncology, medical oncology and plastic surgery.
“What’s really wonderful about the breast clinic is that women can get all the services in one place, at pretty much the same time, so you don’t have to go home and pace the floor until you hear your results,” Connie Kearney said in 2009. “There’s a lot of stress and emotion when you get a mammogram that’s questionable, and the longer the delay, the more stressful it becomes.”
Pyper said the breast center was expanded when PeaceHealth Southwest staff and former patients felt more was needed. The Kearney Center staff is what makes its goals come true, Pyper said.
“They are the funnest, most outgoing team with a huge drive of passion to support these women going through these tests,” Pyper said.
The center has events where it offers free mammogram screenings to uninsured and lower-income women.
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Pyper said increasing community outreach is a goal for the Kearney Center’s future. She is considering an offer to become the permanent manager of the Kearney Center, but isn’t yet sure what she’ll do. Regardless, she’s happy about the Kearney Center’s growth as it turns 10.
“I’m happy to be a part of something that is so incredible,” she said. “I feel I can contribute to the success of this program and help it grow.”