WINCHESTER — Winchester Medical Center’s Diagnostic Center plans to resume mammography services in February, nearly six months after the program was suspended due to concerns about the quality of its scans.

About 25,000 certified letters explaining what led to the shutdown, how the Diagnostic Center addressed the problem and what steps need to be taken by affected patients are expected to be delivered starting next week.

The Diagnostic Center at 300 Campus Blvd. in Winchester lost its federal certification to perform mammograms on Aug. 31 after an annual inspection by the American College of Radiology (ACR), working on behalf of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), questioned the quality of some of the scans that were taken from June 2017 through August 2019.

Mark H. Merrill, president and chief executive officer of Winchester Medical Center‘s corporate parent, Valley Health, said in September the mammography equipment functioned properly, but inspectors determined that staff had not accurately positioned or compressed some breasts, resulting in scans that were not sufficiently sharp.

As a result, any mammogram performed at the Diagnostic Center since June 2017 may need to be re-evaluated or performed again. Patients will be advised in the forthcoming letters how to proceed, and if a follow-up mammogram is recommended, the procedure will be offered by Valley Health at no cost.

Winchester Medical Center’s Diagnostic Center had been providing approximately 550 mammograms each week. Most women have the procedure performed annually to guard against cancer and other diseases of the breast.

According to a media release issued Thursday by Valley Health, “No other services at the Diagnostic Center are affected and all services, including mammography, are continuing at our five other imaging locations.”

Those locations are Warren Memorial Hospital in Front Royal, Shenandoah Memorial Hospital in Woodstock, Page Memorial Hospital in Luray, Hampshire Memorial Hospital in Romney, W.Va., and War Memorial Hospital in Berkeley Springs, W.Va.

After mammography services at the Diagnostic Center were suspended, Valley Health prepared and submitted a plan for corrective actions that included enhanced training for staff at the center and refresher trainer at the system’s five hospitals that perform mammograms.

The FDA formally approved the plan Monday, clearing the way for Valley Health to contact patients and physicians about what happened and what comes next.

“We are confident that we will be fully accredited and certified to offer mammography services again at the Diagnostic Center in February, and are making preparations to add capacity to provide mammograms for patients for whom an annual screening was delayed due to this disruption,” Merrill said in an email on Friday. “We appreciate the community’s continued patience as we navigate this situation. We are committed to maintaining the trust of our patients and remaining the region’s preferred provider of safe, high quality mammography services.”

For more information about Valley Health, Winchester Medical Center and the Diagnostic Center, visit valleyhealthlink.com.

— Contact Brian Brehm at

bbrehm@winchesterstar.com

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