By Kaylyn Christopher
Times West Virginian
Fairmont General Hospital celebrated its new women’s imaging suite with a dedication and ribbon-cutting ceremony Friday afternoon.
The suite includes the hospital’s new mammography machine, which went into service in late July and was purchased with $500,000 raised through a community fundraising campaign.
Peggy Coster, president and CEO of FGH, said the new technology will help the hospital better serve its patients.
“We are so excited to welcome this new technology and equipment to the radiology department,” Coster said. “The equipment is very much deserved and appreciated.”
Dr. John Leon, FGH’s Signature Gifts chair and chief radiologist, explained how the new equipment compares to the old equipment and how it will enable the hospital to provide high-quality health care.
“The advantage of the digital equipment is that it can penetrate dense breast better, can see small calcifications better, and we can manipulate the image once we have the image and magnify it and change the density so we can see it better,” Leon said. “It is amazing technology.”
Coster said that between 20 and 40 residents of Marion County are diagnosed with breast cancer each year and that the death rate due to breast cancer in Marion County is 25 percent higher than the state average.
Leon said the new equipment will be instrumental in making those numbers decrease.
“The goal is to make more accurate diagnoses and hopefully catch breast cancer earlier because the earlier you catch it, the better chance you have of a cure,” he said.
According to Leon, the new equipment has already produced noteable results.
“Our volume is up 25 percent compared to the same time last year,” he said.
Ron Hinkle, chairman of the Fairmont General Hospital Foundation, said the women’s imaging suite and new equipment could not have become a reality without the support of the community.
“During the campaign, we were overwhelmed by the support and encouragement of the community, employees, physicians, local organizations and corporations,” he said.
Hinkle said that a total of 879 gifts contributed to the completion of the project.
Names of donors have been placed on the hospital’s donor-recognition wall.
Marion County Commission President Randy Elliott also spoke at the ceremony and proclaimed the entire month of October as Breast Cancer Awareness Month in Marion County and declared Oct. 11, 2013, as Breast Cancer Awareness Day in Marion County.
In addition to the celebration of the new equipment, Debbie Droppleman, CFO of the Fairmont Federal Credit Union, presented FGH with the first batch of radiation gowns as part of the Robes for Recovery project.
Droppleman, a breast cancer survivor, said the project was a way for her to give back to the community.
“I’ve been blessed during my journey with inspiration, encouragement and support from my family, friends, coworkers and health care professionals,” Droppleman said. “I decided it was time to pay forward the blessings and kindness that I have received.”
The Fairmont Federal Credit Union plans to continue to distribute more robes in the future.
“Our hope is to expand this project into the community so that in the near future we can turn dozens of robes in to hundreds of robes,” Droppleman said.
Coster also announced the launching of the Fairmont General Hospital Breast Care Program. Through the program, men and women age 35-50 from West Virginia who meet income guidelines and have a physician’s order will be able to receive free mammograms.
The ribbon-cutting ceremony was also part of the hospital’s Women’s Health Awareness Day, an annual event that includes important health screenings and information for women in the area.
Email Kaylyn Christopher at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow her on Twitter @KChristopherTWV.