It’s been full circle for Dr. Kathy Schilling, medical director and driving force behind the Lynn Women’s Health and Wellness Institute. As a teenager, her father had moved the family from Long Island to Boca Raton to work as a cardiologist at the new Boca Raton Community Hospital. In 1971, Schilling’s first job before college was working in the lab there doing phlebotomy.
In her gap year between college and med school, she came back to the hospital and worked as a respiratory therapist, and in 1988 finally started her professional career there as the only woman in the hospital’s radiology group. It was there Schilling began a tiny imaging center for women for mammography, which was fairly new then, and ultimately launched the groundbreaking women’s institute, the only one of its kind in the country.
How it all began:
When Christine Lynn made her commitment of $10 million back in 2010, the initial thought was to build a bigger breast center, but it was during that period of time I was talking to patients and found that maybe the only thing they did for their health care was to have a mammogram done. … Women are always taking care of everyone else, so they’re not really thinking about health care. … By having this building here, she may be thinking about breast cancer, but we can get her in the door and provide her with the opportunity to take advantage of these other services.
It was a success, I think. We have already had more than half a million visitors since we opened in 2015, and we’re currently now planning for our expansion.
Why it’s rewarding:
With breast imaging you have the opportunity on an annual basis to read patients’ images, and you see them for 40 years until they’re 80 or more. They get to know you as a radiologist, and they ask for you. When you’re doing procedures you have a personal interaction with the patient. You can really make a difference and give them comfort when they’re going through a trying time. … No one gets lost; we guide them through everything. … We know that we’re there for them. …
When you are sitting there looking at a computer screen and you see the mammogram come up, you oftentimes know right away this lady has a cancer. She didn’t come in thinking she was going to have one, but you know when she leaves her whole life is going to be totally different, and the lives of her family, and neighbors and coworkers. … It doesn’t get easier to talk to people about things like that, but we have in place things to make it as easy as it possibly can be. And to provide her with the best outcomes. … It gives me great purpose as I get to the end of my career here. … It gives you such fulfillment to know you are making a difference and impacting people’s lives in a positive way.