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FAYETTEVILLE -- An attic fire forced the Breast Center in Fayetteville to operate out of a temporary office for nearly a year, but it also opened the door to expanding the center and upgrading its equipment.

Dr. Britton Lott, a radiologist at Medical Associates of Northwest Arkansas' Breast Center, said clinic leaders always expected to expand the operation, and the Dec. 18 fire provided that opportunity.

The Breast Center

55 W. Sundbridge Drive, Fayetteville

7 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday

801 SE Plaza Ave., Suite 5, Bentonville

8 5 p.m. Monday through Friday

Source: Staff report

Before the blaze, the clinic at 55 W. Sunbridge Drive shared its building with Renaissance Women's Healthcare Partners. Renaissance Partners moved to First Care Family Doctors South at 2523 E. Huntsville Road and is looking for a permanent home, said Carole Masterson, Medical Associates of Northwest Arkansas spokesman.

The Breast Center moved back into the Sunbridge Drive building Nov. 14. It now occupies the previous Renaissance space, and grew from 10,000 square feet to 12,000 square feet.

Masterson said renovations cost about $900,000, with insurance covering part of that amount.

The center now offers two clinics, one for screening mammograms and the other for diagnostic breast imaging. The expansion allows each clinic to have its own entrance and waiting room, providing patients more space and appointment options, Lott said.

Smoke, heat and humidity from the fire damaged the center's four mammography machines, and three of the four new ones can produce 3D images, or tomosynthesis. The fourth will be upgraded as needed, Lott said.

Lott said the center conducts as many 3D screenings as possible because the images are more detailed and lead to fewer patient callbacks. Patients are called back for additional imaging if their initial screenings show anything suspicious, according to the American Cancer Society.

The 3-D imaging detects 40 percent more cancers and reduces callbacks by 40 percent, Lott said, adding that some insurance plans cover the enhanced screening.

"It spares patients unnecessary anxiety and costs," she said.

A 2014 study by the Journal of the American Medical Association found that screenings that use digital and 3-D mammography detected 41 percent more invasive cancers and reduced false positive findings by 14 percent.

Debbie Keller, 54, of Fayetteville had her annual screening performed in October at the center's temporary office in the North Hills Medical Park. She had an abnormal reading and had to return for a biopsy last week at the new clinic. Her results came back negative, she said.

Keller's diagnostic mammogram used the 3-D technology.

"It was the first time I had 3-D, and it was not as uncomfortable," she said. "I've been going there for so many years, and they've updated so much."

The Breast Center also has a Bentonville clinic at 801 SE Plaza Ave. Patients with appointments at the Fayetteville center shortly after the fire were given the option of visiting the Bentonville site that operated under expanded hours.

"We want to make it as easy as possible," Lott said.

Metro on 11/25/2016

Print Headline: Fayetteville clinic rises from ashes bigger, better equipped, doctor says

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