Changing the Mammogram Experience

photo of Dr. Bruce Liang, Nat Messina ’74 (BUS), ’81 (LAW), Richard Carbray ’75 (PHARM), Ayn LaPlant, and Dr. Andrew Agwunobi
From left: Dr. Bruce Liang, dean, UConn School of Medicine; Nat Messina ’74 (BUS), ’81 (LAW), president and a director of the Beekley Family Foundation; Richard Carbray ’75 (PHARM), UConn Board of Trustees member; Ayn LaPlant, chief executive officer, Beekley Corporation; and Dr. Andrew Agwunobi, chief executive officer and executive vice president for health affairs at UConn Health.

UConn Health’s new state-of-the-art Beekley Imaging Center aims to reduce stress, enhance women’s care

For many women, mammograms can be a stressful exam, compounded by the wait for results. Thanks to a $500,000 gift from the Beekley Family Foundation, the new Beekley Imaging Center at UConn Health’s Women’s Center will help women feel more relaxed and, perhaps, less anxious.

During a reception on Thursday, October 13, approximately 25 people toured the center as patients would – starting in a brightly colored reception area surrounded by windows. Next, the group traveled through a hallway and entered the waiting room with its welcoming amenities: comfortable chairs, plants, a complimentary snack and drink station, and soothing music.

Outside of these aesthetic touches, the Beekley Imaging Center will provide the best in imaging technology, offering 3D mammography, ultrasound, and even same-day imaging results and follow-up testing.

The goal? To alleviate the stress and concern many women experience when waiting for results.

“This state-of-the-art facility is just an amazing addition to our Women’s Center,” said Dr. Andrew Agwunobi, chief executive officer, UConn Health and executive vice president for health affairs. “It’s making a real difference every day, one patient at a time. Tomorrow morning, there’s going to be a woman who will walk in here, and she will experience this modern, beautiful atmosphere and enhanced care created by the Beekley Family Foundation.”

photo of the new waiting room
A serene, welcoming entrance awaits women receiving exams at The Beekley Imaging Center, located at the UConn Health Women’s Center.

The members of the Beekley family are the shareholders of Beekley Corporation, a Bristol-based company and a world leading supplier of medical and hospitality products. The corporation, which includes Beekley Medical, specializes in products to help medical imaging, surgical, and radiation oncology professionals improve communication, productivity, and patient care. Specifically, the new imaging center features a Beekley product – TomoSpot ® skin markers for Digital Breast Tomosynthesis.

“I’m pleased that our patients get to benefit from all the wonderful devices [the Beekley Corporation] makes,” said Dr. Bruce Liang, dean, UConn School of Medicine. “The accuracy makes a great deal of difference for our patients. We’re extremely grateful and honored to house this wonderful facility for our patients.”

Thursday’s reception was a night of gratitude for the Beekley Family Foundation and the many people who made the Beekley Imaging Center possible, including Anne Diamond, chief executive officer, John Dempsey Hospital; Anne Horbatuck, interim vice president, University Medical Group Administration; and their teams who worked on the design and operation of a serene, welcoming space.

“We are very fortunate to have so many passionate people here that worked together to make this center a reality,” said Dr. Agwunobi. “We cannot thank them enough for their hard work and dedication.”

A Partnership Over Lunch

The story begins with a conversation at lunchtime between two friends and UConn alums: Nat Messina ’74 (BUS), ’81 (LAW), president and a director of the Beekley Family Foundation, and Mark Sinatro ’88 (CLAS), a UConn Foundation board member.

“At our lunch, Mark mentioned the great things going on at UConn Health,” said Messina. “I told him of the interest of the Beekley family in health-related charitable opportunities. Mark than arranged lunch with UConn Foundation President and CEO Josh Newton…and it took off from there.”

Messina began representing W. Mason Beekley III in 1990. Originally, the Beekley Family Foundation was created to be the recipient of Mason’s collection of skiing fine art, sculpture, collectibles, and reference books. After Mason’s death in 2001, the Foundation evolved to address his and his wife’s Eliza Q. Beekley’s vision: providing financial support to establish and sustain initiatives that further education and the arts and sciences for the benefit of the public good.

“When the opportunity arose, my guidance was ‘What would Mason do?’” said Messina. “I look around [the center] and think, ‘This is what Mason would have done.’”

The vision for a state-of-the-art addition to the Women’s Center reflects the corporate persona of the Beekley Corporation, a Bristol-based organization committed to giving back to the community and whose workforce is 80 percent female. The corporation’s chief executive officer, Ayn LaPlant, was delighted to partner with UConn to construct a world-class imaging center.

“We are devoted to women’s breast health care in general, and to be partnered with UConn, another world-class organization who has the same mission and goals as Beekley, is so exciting,” said LaPlant. “I think it’s a great partnership.”

Recognition for Two UConn Health Employees

photo of Dr. Aleksey Merkulov and Kim Sokol
Dr. Aleksey Merkulov, assistant professor of radiology and section head of women’s imaging, and Kim Sokol, radiologic technologist. pose with their Scientific Excellence Awards.

During Thursday’s reception, representatives from Beekley Medical presented UConn Health employees Dr. Aleksey Merkulov, assistant professor of radiology and section head of women’s imaging, and Kim Sokol, radiologic technologist, with Scientific Excellence Awards.

“It’s been clear working together that [Dr. Mekulov and Kim Sokol] focus on better patient care, the advance of medicine, and together we share the goal of assuring the highest quality of care was provided to all medical imaging patients,” said Martha Flannery, vice president of sales and marketing, Beekley Medical. “Thank you for being a great partner in the community.”

The Beekley Imaging Center is currently open and located on the eighth floor of the Outpatient Pavilion on the UConn Health campus. During October, patients will receive a pink rose and gift bag to note National Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Other than skin cancer, breast cancer remains the most common cancer among American women. About 1 in 8 women in the United States will develop invasive breast cancer during her lifetime. Early detection remains the best defense against this deadly disease.

To learn more about the UConn Health Women’s Center and the Beekley Imaging Center, visit http://health.uconn.edu/women/.


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