October 24, 2023

A New Donation of $1.625 Million Brings State-of-the-Art Breast Cancer Screening Technology to St. Joe’s

A gift from the proceeds of the sale of a local seniors’ apartment is making the Hospital the first in the region to offer 3D contrast-enhanced mammogram-guided biopsies.

A $1.625 million donation generated through the sale of the Hamilton and District Senior Citizens’ Home RAMBYNAS Inc., and gifted to St. Joseph’s Healthcare Foundation, is making St. Joe’s a one-stop-shop for breast cancer screening and detection. The gift has funded the purchase of two state-of-the-art pieces of diagnostic imaging equipment with 3D digital breast tomosynthesis, contrast-enhanced mammography and stereotactic biopsy system capabilities.

  • The 3D digital breast tomosynthesis machine is essentially a 3D mammogram. While traditional mammograms include two X-ray images of the breast, a 3D mammogram is created from a series of low-dose X-ray images taken in an arc-shaped pattern to create a more accurate and detailed 3D representation of the breast.
  • This technology is used to resolve abnormalities found on mammograms and is more sensitive for the detection of breast cancer when used for screening. It’s often used for patients with prior breast cancer, a family history of breast cancer, or dense breast tissue that can make lesions more difficult to spot.
  • The stereotactic biopsy system provides high-accuracy image guidance that allows radiologists to accurately target and biopsy an abnormal area seen on a mammogram.
  • Contrast-enhanced mammography allows healthcare professionals to more accurately decide which lesions need to be biopsied, and which lesions are likely to be benign—thereby reducing unnecessary procedures.

Before the arrival of this equipment, a patient would often need to come back to the Hospital for a breast MRI to stage their cancer post-biopsy. By using contrast-enhanced mammography instead, the same staging information is obtained immediately. As a result, there will be fewer repeat visits to the Hospital, a shorter time to diagnosis and treatment planning, and reduced levels of stress and anxiety for the patient.

“This gift and the equipment it’s helped our Hospital to acquire will save precious time and help save lives,” says Dr. Colm Boylan, Chief, Diagnostic Imaging, St. Joseph’s Healthcare Hamilton. “With these new technologies, we’ll be able to better detect breast cancer at its earliest stages so that we can provide the diagnoses and treatments our patients need, sooner.”

In Canada, one in eight women will be diagnosed with breast cancer during their lifetime. St. Joe’s is home to two sites of the Ontario Breast Screening Program at its King and West 5th Campuses and performs more than 17,500 mammograms annually. The donation has made St. Joe’s the first Hospital in the Ontario West region to offer 3D contrast-enhanced mammogram-guided biopsies to patients.

Continuing A Legacy of Caring for the Hamilton Community

Since the early 1940s, Hamilton has been home to many immigrants of Lithuanian heritage. In October 1984, a 50-unit not-for-profit senior living apartment was built to provide seniors from that community with affordable, independent housing. But after nearly 40 years, Lithuanian tenancy at the building began to decline and the Board of the Hamilton and District Senior Citizens’ Home RAMBYNAS Inc. knew they had some decisions to make about the future.

“In our hearts and minds, the Hamilton and District Senior Citizens’ Home RAMBYNAS Inc. had fulfilled the mission of its founders,” said Ray Sakalas, Chair of the Board. “But now, with only a handful of the original tenants left, and a growing need for affordable senior living in our community, we knew it was time to sell the home to a provider who would uphold its legacy while welcoming in a new group of grateful residents.”

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In January 2023, the facility was sold to East Hamilton Kiwanis Non-Profit Homes Inc., with a few conditions: The new owner would need to commit to continuing to rent to its current residents and continue to use the building in the manner it was intended – to offer affordable, dignified housing for vulnerable seniors in Hamilton.

To continue caring for the Hamilton community, the Board of the Hamilton and District Senior Citizens’ Home RAMBYNAS Inc. is using the proceeds of the building’s sale to support various charitable causes across the city.

“It seems only fitting that we celebrate this remarkable gift during the month of October – Breast Cancer Awareness Month in Canada,” says Sera Filice-Armenio, President and CEO, St. Joseph’s Healthcare Foundation. “We’re so grateful to the board of RAMBYNAS Inc. for their generous donation that will help patients facing a breast cancer diagnosis to get the definitive answers they need so they have the very best chance possible for treatment, recovery and remission.”

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