Mason Health Prioritizes Women’s Health

Mason Health is committed to its Vision of offering the best patient-centered care in the Pacific Northwest. By recruiting and retaining skilled providers and working with community partners to purchase much-needed medical equipment, Mason Health is keeping services local so patients can receive the best level of care in their own communities. This past fall, Mason Health began to offer laparoscopic hysterectomies at Mason General Hospital, and earlier this year, the Karen Hilburn Cancer Fund, a chapter of the Mason General Hospital Foundation, donated $104,000 toward the purchase of vital women’s health equipment. Now, women will not have to travel out of county for important services unique to their needs.

Dr. Andrea Martin, MD, far left, and Dr. Carey Martens, DO, perform a laparoscopic hysterectomy on a patient in January.

Dr. Carey Martens, DO, and Dr. Andrea Martin, MD, of MGH Mountain View Women’s Health work seamlessly together to perform laparoscopic hysterectomies at Mason General Hospital. In a laparoscopic hysterectomy, providers remove the uterus from the body using only two to three small incisions and a camera inserted through one of the incisions, rather than performing open abdominal surgery. Patients are under anesthesia for a shorter amount of time, and recovery time is greatly reduced, from six to eight weeks to about two weeks, compared to an open hysterectomy.

From left, Dr. Carey Martens, DO, and Dr. Andrea Martin, MD, pose before entering the Operating Room ahead of a laparoscopic hysterectomy performed in January.

What further sets Mason Health apart from other larger hospital systems, such as Johns Hopkins Medicine, is that Dr. Martens and Dr. Martin perform the laparoscopic procedure without robotic assistance. The average amount of time for the entire surgery is about one hour.

“Larger hospitals rely upon a robot to perform this procedure, but that actually increases the cost to the patient,” Dr. Martens said. “It also increases operative time, which means more time under anesthesia. We’re able to perform complex surgeries on higher-risk patients without the need of a robot. We’re making it so that patients can get their surgeries here instead of going to a larger hospital.”

Dr. Martens developed and perfected this surgical technique over the past 12 years. He brought it to Mason Health when he joined the health care team in 2018 and shared his knowledge and skill with Dr. Martin. Now, both providers perform the procedure, separately if needed, but they enjoy working together in the operating room assisting one another.

“We complement each other really well in our styles, and there is a lot of trust and skill between us,” Dr. Martin said. “The best feeling is having a team to work with that you can feel comfortable with. Before, when it was just me, I didn’t have that, but now I feel like I have someone who has my back. We work together to keep these surgeries as minimally invasive as possible.”

Dr. Martin, who serves on the board of the Karen Hilburn Cancer Fund as well, was also instrumental in helping that organization identify much-needed pieces of medical equipment to fund, so that women could continue to stay local for their services.

Karen Hilburn Cancer Fund Board Members: top row; Katie Arnold, Raeanne Myers, Ginger Brooks, Linda Cargill and Kelle Oblizalo; bottom row; Kathy Mix, Dr. Andrea Martin, Nancy Wright, Karen Hilburn and Hilburn’s dog, Bodhi. Not pictured: Michele Crow, Karen Anderson, Michelle Corral, Kathy Geist, Jan Olson, Jackie Rhodes and Marcia Rohlik.

The Karen Hilburn Cancer Fund, a chapter of Mason General Hospital Foundation, donated $104,000 to go toward the purchase of a stereotactic breast biopsy adapter for $85,000, a hysteroscope for $5,000, and two colposcopes for $7,000 each.

“Currently, our radiologists perform breast biopsies by manual injections using our general ultrasound machines,” said Nicole Eddins, Mason Health’s Senior Director of Ancillary Services, who also helped the Fund identify equipment. “When there is calcification present, an ultrasound machine isn’t able to pick up the image.”

Mason Health will now be able to perform these biopsies in-house, without having to refer patients to a facility in Olympia, Eddins continued. The adapter connects to the Hospital’s 3D mammography machine and ensures exact precision during biopsies.

The hysteroscope is a thin, illuminated tube used to examine the cervix to diagnose endometrial and uterine cancers, and a colposcope is a magnifying device used to examine the cervix, vagina and vulva when cancer screening tests show abnormal cell changes in the cervix.

The new pieces of equipment replace equipment that is outdated, Dr. Martin said.

“I’ve had my fair share of grumbling in the Operating Room when our hysteroscope wasn’t doing what I wanted it to do,” Dr. Martin added. “We need new ones. Our colposcope works, but needs replacing. It can be a night and day difference when you use newer equipment.”

The Karen Hilburn Cancer Fund has grown over the years to cover the costs not only for treatment of cancers that affect women in Mason County, but also to support equipment and services such as the 3D mammography machine and the Hospital’s Cancer Wellness support group with Harmony Hill Retreat Center. This is all due to growing support from the community, through regular donations and fundraising from the Fund’s Denim & Diamonds event in October and two golf tournaments, one in the summer and one in the fall, as well as the Tour de Mason Lake bicycle ride coming up in June.

“Every year people give more to the fund than ever before,” Karen Hilburn said. “We are very fortunate. It’s a wonderful thing to help acquire equipment that will save more lives.”

Learn more about Mason Health’s laparoscopic hysterectomy procedure and the Karen Hilburn Cancer Fund donations in the April issue of SCOPE magazine, delivered to each household in Public Hospital District No. 1 of Mason County. Registration is open now for the Tour de Mason Lake; visit www.masongeneral.com for more details.

The team at MGH Mountain View Women’s Health, including Dr. Martens, Dr. Martin and Carely Jacobs, PA-C, will be moving into Mason Clinic on May 20. Visit Mason Health’s website and Facebook for updates on clinic moves.

Mason Health, Public Hospital District No. 1 of Mason County, is certified by Det Norske Veritas (DNV) and is a licensed and accredited acute care hospital with a level four emergency trauma designation. There are more than 100 physicians on staff in 19 specialties. Mason Health now offers 3D Mammography Services. For more information on 3D mammograms or to find a health care provider, visit www.MasonGeneral.com.

Pictures provided by Photo by Arla Shephard Bull, Marketing Coordinator.