Hospital to Add Cutting Edge 3-D Digital Mammography System
to Help Detect Breast Cancer Earlier

The Chester River Health Foundation has received a lead gift in the amount of $35,000 in its campaign to raise $400,000 for a state-of-the-art digital mammography system that will show three dimensional images aimed at detecting breast cancer in its earliest stages. 

The Chester River Hospital Center Auxiliary, which operates the hospital gift shop and the Nearly New shop on Fountain Park in Chestertown, made the donation at its annual meeting on January 10, 2012.

“We are enormously grateful to the Auxiliary for this wonderful gift,” said Jane E. Hukill, chair of the Foundation board.  “Although Chester River has had fully digital mammography since 2007, certified by the American College of Radiology since 1980, this new system will replace 12 -year old technology.  Our radiologists tell us they will be able to rotate Star Wars-like images in order to detect cancer earlier than ever.

”The incidence of breast cancer in Kent County is more than 25% higher than the national rate, according to the Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene.  Chester River Hospital Center has the only mammography service in the county.

“In my opinion, Chester River has been the leader in the five mid-shore counties for mammography services for many years,” said Antonio Nelson, M.D., chief of radiology at the hospital. 

“We don’t know all the reasons for the high rate of breast cancer—a disease that afflicts men as well as women,” Dr. Nelson explained, “but research tells us that obesity and unhealthy lifestyles are significant risk factors.  This new technology will play a vital role as we work to detect breast cancers at the earliest possible stage.”

Dr. Nelson said patients will benefit in several ways from the new system.  “This new equipment will reduce patient exposure to radiation and will reduce the time it requires to do an exam which, in turn, will reduce stress for many patients,” he said.  “And significantly, the new mammography equipment will provide the most technologically-advanced breast images on the Delaware/Maryland Shore.”

Annually, Chester River Hospital Center’s radiology department performs an average of 3,523 screening and diagnostic mammograms.  In 2010, 12.7% of those studies had “suspicious findings.”  And, 30% of those suspicious findings were in fact, breast cancer, according to hospital statistics.

Radiology department manager Kelly Bottomley said her staff started raising money in the fall toward the purchase of the new equipment, and is planning a grassroots campaign to increase the number of patients who get exams, once the system is in place. 

“It is our department’s goal to increase the number of screening mammograms by at least 10% in the first year,” Bottomley said.  “The theme of our campaign is ‘Do you know your date?’ because we believe every woman, age 40 years and over, should know the date each month when they perform self-examinations, and the date each year when they should have a screening mammogram.”

The radiology department kicked off its fundraising campaign in September.  Staff members tie-dyed 250 tee shirts pink in the hospital courtyard and then raised money by selling the tee shirts, baked goods and pink pearl bracelets. 

In addition, the department staff sold breast cancer awareness Tervis brand  tumblers on First Friday during December, in downtown Chestertown. The remaining tumblers are currently being offered for sale in the department as well as on the Chester River Health System’s website ( for $20, plus shipping and handling.

“I think it’s fair to say,” Bottomley said, “that all of us at Chester River are committed to supporting this project because each of us knows someone, including several of our co-workers, who have had this horrific disease.”

Bottomley said enthusiasm for the new mammography equipment has caught on throughout the Chester River Health System.  The Employee Advisory Committee raised $230 for the mammography system at a pre-Christmas baked goods and craft sale, and said the radiology department staff is planning more events during 2012 including: a Rita’s water ice event, Longaberger Basket Bingo, a Texas Hold’em Tournament, and a dance with silent and live auctions.

The Chester River Health Foundation’s hospital fundraising efforts during the coming year also will be directed towards the mammography system effort.

“Breast cancer and early detection touch the lives of everyone in our community,” Hukill said.  “We will solicit grant money and meet one-on-one with individuals as well as ask area civic and service organizations to go all out to help in this endeavor this year,” Hukill said.  “The Foundation Board voted to direct the proceeds from our annual golf tournament—on June 1, 2012—to benefit this project, and we’ve obtained a new allotment of Maryland State Tax Credits which will be sold in conjunction with the golf tournament in the spring.”

Hukill added that the Foundation will introduce an ‘Honor Roll of Women’ during the summer, when art work designed by the radiology staff will be displayed on a permanent donor recognition wall in the radiology department.For more information about the mammography equipment and to learn how you can help with fundraising, please contact Maryann Ruehrmund, executive director, Chester River Health Foundation, at (410) 810-5660 or by email at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .

The Chester River Hospital Center Auxiliary presented the lead gift, a $35,000 check to the Chester River Health Foundation, to help purchase a new, 3-dimensional, digital mammography system for the hospital’s radiology department. The acquisition of this equipment will play a vital role in helping to detect breast cancer at the earliest stages, in our community, which has an incidence of breast cancer greater than 25% higher than the national average. Pictured left to right are:  Kelly Bottomley, radiology manager; Chester River Hospital Center; Erin Gillespie and Beryl “Miki” Smith, 2011 co- presidents, Chester River Hospital Center Auxiliary; and Maryann Ruehrmund, executive director, Chester River Health Foundation.