New Avon Foundation Breast Center to open at San Francisco General on May 13

By Eve Harris

A new imaging center for breast cancer detection will celebrate its dedication and grand opening on May 13 at San Francisco General Hospital Medical Center.

Named the Avon Foundation Comprehensive Breast Center, the new facility is state-of-the-art and focuses on treating the underserved population. Images taken at the Center will be read on-site by UCSF radiologists who are based as SFGHMC.

“With this new Center, we’ll dramatically increase access to screening mammography for low-income women in San Francisco,” said Lori Strachowski, MD, director of women’s imaging at SFGHMC and an assistant professor of radiology at UCSF.

Until now, the hospital has had two mammogram machines operating at maximum capacity seven days a week. Even at capacity, women still faced long waiting periods, according to Strachowski. With the new Center, Strachowski hopes to serve as many as 10,000 patients per year—twice the number currently possible.

Since 2000, the Avon Foundation has awarded $12.2 million to UCSF and SFGHMC for breast cancer research and treatment. “A mission of the Foundation is to reach the medically underserved , including low-income, elderly and minority populations, and those without adequate health insurance. Reversing historical disparities in breast cancer care is a priority,” said Kathleen Walas, Foundation president.

Gene Marie O’Connell, chief executive officer of SFGHMC, noted that the collaborative effort that supports the mission of the hospital also is behind the new Center. “I am very appreciative to Avon, to the San Francisco General Hospital Foundation, to additional donors and to the City who together made this Breast Center possible. Inside this beautiful building, we will now be able to provide needed services to the women of San Francisco.”

Speakers scheduled for the dedication program include Mayor Gavin Newsom; Frank McCormick, PhD, director, UCSF Comprehensive Cancer Center; Sophie Maxwell, San Francisco Board of Supervisors; and Mitchell Katz, MD, director, San Francisco Department of Public Health. The event is set for 4 to 6 PM.

The new Center is a $3.6 million, 4,500-square-foot modular building designed by Tsang Architecture of San Francisco. It is located at the intersection of 22nd Street and Main Campus Drive.

As a reflection of the facility’s purpose, the design explores healing and dialogue, according to architect Ignatius Tsang. It is designed to be child friendly and features as its centerpiece a healing garden designed and donated by landscape designer Topher Delaney.

The garden will be named in honor of Glen Ellen resident Carolyn Stolman, who was committed to the potential of meditation and nature for healing. She died of breast cancer in February 2004.

SFGHMC programs the provide culturally-sensitive support to patients and their families also will be part of the new Breast Center. Current programs focus on Chinese and Latina women, and African-American and Filipina programs will be added.  The hospital plans to implement its innovative waiting-room program in which interactive health education is provided by patient preference in English, Spanish, or Cantonese.  SFGHMC also will launch a new program of genetic counseling and testing for hereditary breast cancer.

Breast cancer is the most common cancer among women in the Bay Area and the US and the second most fatal after lung cancer. The Avon Foundation, a 501-C-3 public charity, was founded in 1955 with a mission to improve the lives of women.  The Foundation supports programs that offer economic opportunity and provide care and research for breast cancer in the U.S. and around the world. To date the Avon Foundation Breast Cancer Crusade has awarded more than $300 million to breast cancer research and care organizations worldwide.

NOTE TO MEDIA: Media are invited to cover the May 13 event. For interviews with care providers or patient representatives or for information about building tours, call Gloria Rodriguez at SFGHMC (415-206-5310).  For interviews with Kathleen Walas, call Tracey Warshaw at the Avon Foundation (212-282-5664).

Released jointly by UCSF and the San Francisco Department of Public Health

Additional contact:

Eileen Shields at SFDPH, (415) 554-2507, [email protected]