D190614 mammography machine

Teresa Barnett demonstrates Decatur Morgan Hospital’s new mammography machine Thursday inside the Breast Health Center. [DAN BUSEY/DECATUR DAILY]

An almost $800,000, privately funded project will improve treatment and patient comfort at Decatur Morgan Hospital’s Breast Health Center.

The expansion includes more spacious dressing areas and a 3D mammography machine that will help doctors better detect lumps, tumors and other abnormalities during breast exams, said Noel Lovelace, president of the Decatur Morgan Hospital Foundation.

“This is what women wanted, and our imaging system is totally digital at the hospital,” she said Thursday as the hospital opened the renovated area of Decatur Morgan to the public.

The foundation, Junior League of Morgan County and Power of Pink Walk that honors Decatur teacher Lee Lott raised money to purchase the 3D mammography machine and pay for the renovations.

Lott, who was diagnosed with stage 4 inflammatory breast cancer a decade ago, called the changes at the hospital phenomenal.

“What you see on the images with the 3D machine is just amazing,” she said. “I have had my mammogram this year, and I would encourage every women in the area to do so.”

Bettye Taylor of Lawrence County, who said she had mammograms at the hospital before the renovations, said she had the same experience as Lott.

“You feel a lot more comfortable,” she said.

Decatur Morgan President Nat Richardson, who has a medical background in radiology, said 3D mammography provides “deeper tissue details,”

“This is the best you can get,” he said.

According to the Mayo Clinic, a 3D mammogram is an imaging test that combines multiple breast X-rays to create a three-dimensional picture of the breast and can be used to investigate the cause of breast problems, such as a breast mass or breast pain.

Lovelace said the cost of the machine was about $350,000 and additional money was used for renovations and to move ultrasound and stereotactic biopsy services to the same area in the hospital.

A stereotactic breast biopsy is a procedure that uses mammography to precisely identify and biopsy an abnormality within the breast, she said.

“We’ve had all of these services, but they were in different areas of the hospital,” Lovelace said. “Now, instead of having patients go to the surgeons, the surgeons come to where the patients are.”

- deangelo@decaturdaily.com or 256-340-2469. Twitter @DD_Deangelo.

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