Why one RN wouldn’t go anywhere else for her breast health
It didn't matter that Melissa Wahlburg worked for HCA Florida Fawcett Hospital, she had a choice in where she received her breast health care and chose HCA Florida Healthcare.
As a healthcare professional, Melissa Wahlburg, BSN, RN, CNOR, knows the statistics: Women today have a roughly 1 in 8 chance of receiving a breast cancer diagnosis at some point in their lives. As the daughter and sister of women who’ve experienced abnormal mammogram results, she knows the importance of being your own advocate. Yet when the 41-year-old called to schedule her annual mammogram earlier this year, she also knew she had a choice about where to get it.
Wahlburg is the business development director of surgical services for HCA Florida Fawcett Hospital, where she’s worked for the past 13 years. And because of her mom’s and sister’s past abnormal mammogram results, she started preventive mammograms in her late 30s. She admits to choosing her HCA Florida Healthcare hospital, at first, because of the convenience. However, she’s continued to choose it because of the care she’s received—especially this past year, when she received abnormal results herself.
“Knowing my family history, I have a heightened awareness that abnormal readings may something that’s going to be relatively normal for me, as well,” Wahlburg says. “Since it’s just based on the density of my tissue, I am at an increased risk to be that 1 in 8.”
The mammography technician helped ease Wahlburg’s worries the minute she stepped in the door for her annual screening. “She took her time with me,” Wahlburg recalls. “She asked questions. She asked me about my anxiety. She talked me through the process ahead of time and was very sensitive. Plus, the environment itself was very quiet and calming. And all of that worked together to help reduce my overall stress.”
The hospital also called “right away” when Wahlburg’s screening resulted in an abnormal finding and was quick to help her schedule a follow-up mammogram and ultrasound. “I loved that communication—and know it’s communication my mammography colleagues have with each and every patient,” she says.
Shortly after Wahlburg had the follow-up testing, the hospital called to tell her the results were negative. “As a medical professional, I’m aware of the steps that are involved in a workup, and in an abnormal mammogram,” she says, “so I was really impressed with how quickly they got back to me to let me know that the results for the diagnostic were negative and that I didn’t need to schedule a biopsy.”
The radiologist, Aaron Nordgren, MD, also reviewed Wahlburg’s imaging results with her one-on-one. “He pulled up my imaging and showed me where my area of concern was, and then he explained why, based on the follow-up imaging, it was negative,” she says. “It definitely put me at ease.”
Dr. Nordgren credits the HCA Florida Healthcare approach that puts patients at the center of their care. “If we’re having a diagnostic mammogram, we’re often able to discuss findings with the patient that day,” he says. “Patients are the most important part of everything we do, so we want to talk to them. That communication—going over their case one-on-one—helps tremendously.”
So do technology advances like breast tomosynthesis, or 3D mammography, which is more precise than traditional mammography at detecting cancer in dense breasts.
“It helps us clarify whether something is a real lesion and can help keep patients from having to come back unnecessarily,” says Dr. Nordgren, who also points to the family-like atmosphere of the hospital. “Our colleagues are what truly sets us apart,” he says. “When patients do come back for follow-ups, our colleagues make the process easier. It’s more like a family approach. It’s a very tough time to undergo a biopsy, for example, but knowing you have people in the room that care about you makes a difference.”
Choosing HCA Florida Healthcare
Patient care is what it’s all about for Wahlburg: “If anything, I’m even more critical of patient care as an employee of the hospital because how we care for our community means a lot to me,” she says. “I’ve always felt incredibly loved and cared for, as a colleague and as a patient.”
At HCA Florida Healthcare we strive to deliver high-quality, patient-centered care to our more than 8.6 million patients each year across the Sunshine State. Our women’s health care centers offer complete breast health services to detect breast cancer and other breast abnormalities in their earliest stages. Some of our services include mammograms, breast ultrasounds and biopsies. We strive to make every appointment as convenient and comfortable as possible, and that starts with scheduling a screening mammogram online.
- National Cancer Institute