Martha’s Vineyard Hospital Annual Fund

November 2014

Dear Friends,

In the 38 years I’ve been working in the radiology department at Martha’s Vineyard Hospital, I’ve seen many advances in medicine. X-ray film mammography for the early detection of breast cancer first became the standard of care for women in the 1980s. Two decades later came digital mammography, which was like going from an old black-and-white television image to HD color. Big strides were made – radiation doses decreased while the quality of images increased for screening and diagnosis.

RAD_Archives_Deborah_Hall, MD.

Breast imaging is again entering a new era: Digital Tomosynthesis. This cutting edge technique takes successive x-ray images, each at a slightly different level to create a 3D picture without significantly increasing radiation exposure. Think of it as the difference between looking at a book – and then reading all the pages. The idea is simple: what lies hidden within normal tissue in one image might be visible in another image without the superimposed surrounding tissue. It allows for better distinctions between healthy and abnormal tissue. The numbers are profound – a 41% increase in the detection of invasive breast cancers and a 29% increase in the detection of all breast cancers by some reports. This means earlier cancer diagnoses, and fewer false positives requiring fewer call-backs, thereby reducing patient stress and anxiety. The very first 3-D images I saw were amazing and mind-boggling. Although the price tag for this equipment is steep – approximately $400,000 – the superior imaging has the potential to be life-changing.

Mass General and Martha’s Vineyard Hospital have been my working home for almost four decades. I will long remember and always cherish my time here and the many wonderful people I worked with and cared for. But all good things must end and this year I am retiring from active practice. As I bid the Hospital goodbye, and as part of my last hurrah, I would like to add my enthusiastic support to the effort to bring this exciting state-of-the-art technology to Martha’s Vineyard Hospital. I hope you will consider giving to this year’s fund raising effort that will enable us to have Digital Tomosynthesis available on the Island, this upcoming year.

With your help, I can think of no better way to finish my long and gratifying career than to know that the women of Martha’s Vineyard will have access to and continue to receive the highest standard of care, right here at home.


Deborah Hall, M.D.

After graduating from Georgetown Medical School in 1974, Deb started her career at Massachusetts General Hospital. In 1976 she started “moonlighting” as a resident in radiology at Martha’s Vineyard Hospital. Deb married Robert Sarno, M.D. (also a radiologist), in 1982. Along with their two children, Nick and Jane (a social worker at MV Community Services), they enjoy their home on South Beach.

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