Over the summer, the Breast Center at the Fairview Ridges campus underwent a quiet but drastic transformation: The center tripled in size and doubled its patient capacity.
After reopening in October, during National Breast Cancer Awareness Month, Fairview held an open house Tuesday to celebrate the expansion. Insiders hope the center is better positioned as a regional care center for the south metro.
"This is a very important move," said Mayor Elizabeth Kautz, herself a two-time cancer survivor. "South of the (Minnesota River) is where the growth is going to take place."
Kautz said she recognized the need for such an expansion a decade ago, during her last bout with breast cancer, in 2000. At the time, Kautz had to travel 20 minutes away, to Southdale Hospital in Edina, for her care.
"I remember sitting in the waiting room and, of course, I got to chatting the others up," Kautz said. "And it turned out half of them were from south of the river."
As it turned out, Kautz wasn't alone in her vision. Though the work itself took less than a season to complete, the expansion has been on Fairview’s wish list for years, said Dawn Vierling, director of imaging with Fairview. The board approved the project this past spring.
The expansion included both quantitative and qualitative improvements. The Breast Center now offers clients more privacy and personal attention: individual dressing rooms, closed-off conference rooms for consultations with family and separate waiting areas for routine mammogram patients and those awaiting results of crucial diagnostic tests.
"We don't want to co-mingle the two groups," Vierling said. "People who are there for diagnostic procedures are really anxious and nervous."
For those who do go into treatment, the Breast Center offers the services of a nurse navigator, Vierling said, who personally leads each patient battling breast disease through the process, step by step.
The expansion is one of many changes at Fairview Hospital, which is growing to accommodate an aging population, said Brian Knapp, Vice President of Operations. Recently, the Fairview Health Services opened a clinic in Savage, as well. Knapp said the organization is considering further enhancement of ambulatory services, cardiology and orthopedics, among other improvements.