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Donor's Gift Honors Wife's Cancer Struggle, Offers Legacy for Women's Health

SAN FRANCISCO, Nov. 24, 2015 /PRNewswire/ -- Thanks to a donor with a personal connection to breast cancer, Dignity Health St. Mary's Medical Center's Sister Diane Grassilli Center for Women's Health now offers the most comprehensive breast imaging capabilities in San Francisco.

Donor Fred Ruhland, along with an anonymous friend, stepped forward with a gift of $617,320 that allowed the Center to purchase new equipment for Breast Digital Mammography with Tomosynthesis and Whole Breast Ultrasound. Tomosynthesis, three-dimensional (3-D) mammography for the detection of breast cancer tumors, represents the most advanced breast imaging that exists.

Ruhland made the gift in memory of his wife Jena, a former St. Mary's Foundation board member who passed away in 2012 after a battling breast cancer.

"I wanted to honor Jena by helping future patients at St. Mary's in a very tangible way," Ruhland said. "Jena knew this technology was right around the corner and hoped that it would be part of the detection, diagnosis, and care St. Mary's could provide for women who come to the Center.

"My second reason for supporting this effort was to give St. Mary's a 'leg-up' in technology in the San Francisco medical community. I wanted state-of-the-art equipment to match the great care Jena received during her time at St. Mary's."

Tomosynthesis can detect breast cancer tumors more precisely than conventional mammography, and the imaging is completed in approximately 10 minutes. During the exam, an X-ray tube moves in an arc around the breast while 11 images are taken, creating 3-D images as opposed to the flat images obtained with standard two-dimensional mammography. The technology is able to detect tumors of small size, especially in women with dense breast tissue.

Other benefits include greater accuracy in pinpointing size, shape, and location of abnormalities, which results in fewer unneeded biopsies; more precise images of dense breast tissue; and increased likelihood of detecting multiple breast tumors, which can occur in 15 percent of breast cancer patients.

Patients interested in receiving a tomosynthesis mammogram do not need to wait for a physician referral. Patients can self-refer by calling 415.750.HERS (4377) or by scheduling online through InQuicker at Breast imaging services are offered through the Sister Diane Grassilli Center for Women's Health at St. Mary's Medical Center, which has received full accreditation as a Breast Imaging Center of Excellence by the American College of Radiology. The center has also been recognized by Healthgrades for excellence in women's health services.

About Dignity Health St. Mary's Medical Center 
Dignity Health St. Mary's Medical Center is an accredited, not-for-profit community hospital that has been caring for the people of San Francisco since 1857. Located across from Golden Gate Park, it is the longest continually running hospital in San Francisco. St. Mary's has been named a 2014 Top Performer in Key Quality Measures by The Joint Commission for excellence in patient outcomes. In both 2014 and 2015, St. Mary's received the Distinguished Hospital Award for Clinical Excellence from Healthgrades. St. Mary's was also recognized as one of the Top 100 Orthopedic Programs nationally by Becker's Hospital Review and is a Certified Stroke Center by the Joint Commission. The Joint Commission also recognized St. Mary's as a 2013 Top Performer on Key Quality Measures®. St. Mary's state-of-the-art Cancer Center offers the full-range of oncology, radiation, and imaging services. Beyond clinical care, St. Mary's is committed to furthering the healing ministry, and to providing high-quality, affordable healthcare to the community we serve. For more information, visit


SOURCE Dignity Health St. Mary’s Medical Center
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