Staying healthy: Bellevue is committed to providing accessible resources for breast health

Staying healthy: Bellevue is committed to providing accessible resources for breast health
Community News Group / Leah Lu

Bellevue Hospital Center’s workforce of experts is steering the earliest institution of NYC Health + Hospitals — America’s largest public health care system — to new heights.

The hospital’s chief of breast surgery, recognized by Caribbean Today magazine as one of the “10 Top Caribbean Born Doctors In The U.S. You Should Know,” is committed to caring for breast cancer patients and going to great lengths to combat the disease.

“The patient can be assured that he or she is receiving the highest level of care by a dedicated team of doctors, nurses, and support staff,” said Dr. Kathie-Ann Joseph, an associate professor of surgery at NYU Langone Medical Center. WHO initiated programs in areas where cancer rates are high and screening rates are low by creating services such as a community tumor board allowing clinical staff throughout the health system to present and discuss interesting, difficult, or unusual cases.

Best in breast care

Bellevue was awarded the American College of Surgeons breast care services Center of Excellence accreditation in 2014, the highest form of clinical and quality care recognition for breast cancer centers in the country, because of its highly skilled breast team dedicated to providing quality, customized care.

“We have patient navigators that speak several languages, and survivors that help our patients get through what can be a very scary and stressful situation,” said Joseph. “We do what we can to make the process easier for our patients.”


The hospital is also a leader in repairing the space left in the body after the cancer has been removed.

“We are the only Health + Hospitals hospital that offers microvascular-free flap reconstruction,” says Joseph, who strives to provide patients with the best options — sometimes against all odds.

A patient who was diagnosed with recurrent breast cancer needed a mastectomy, but she was too thin for a tissue-based reconstruction of the breast mound and did not want an implant, the physician said.

“Rather than just telling her she was out of options, our plastic surgeons put their heads together, spoke with other colleagues, and tried a new procedure called a breast-sharing procedure, transferring a portion of her unaffected breast to create a new breast,” she said. “The woman was thrilled and she is doing well.”

The hospital’s full range of multidisciplinary care includes:

• Neoadjuvant therapy (chemotherapy prior to surgery) for locally advanced breast cancer.

• Genetic counseling, nutrition, and psychological support, and services such as massage, legal aid, and financial services.

• Nipple-sparing mastectomy and tissue-based reconstruction.

• Survivorship clinics.

Health plan cares

MetroPlus Health Plan — NYC Health + Hospitals’ health services plan — attempts to defray the tribulations and minimize the trauma of breast cancer with a large selection of affordable plans, with premiums as low as $0 to $20 per month and screenings free-of-charge.

“For most of our MetroPlus members, the majority of breast cancer care will be covered by MetroPlus, though a few members may have co-pays, depending upon their type of insurance plan,” said Dr. Kathie T. Rones, the deputy chief medical officer and a breast cancer survivor.

MetroPlus’ long history of supporting breast health includes sponsoring and walking in Making Strides Against Breast Cancer.

“Many of our staff, including myself, have walked to raise awareness and funds for this important cause,” said Rones. “As a doctor, and a 20-year breast cancer survivor myself, I realize how critical screening and early detection are.”

Gotham has long been a trailblazer in health care, with a system that pre-dates our nation.

Bellevue Hospital Center started as a humble, six-bed infirmary in 1736, 40 years before the colonials declared independence from the British. Its original location sits on the site of present-day City Hall as the nation’s oldest continuously operating hospital.

And the NYC Health + Hospital’s impact has remained far-reaching, now providing essential services to 1.2 million New Yorkers in more than 70 locations across the five boroughs.

Bellevue Hospital Center [462 First Ave., off E. 27th Street in Kips Bay, Manhattan, (212) 562–5680].

Community News Group / Leah Lu