Loma Linda University Medical Center is taking several steps to educate women in the community on all the hospital has to offer - both at their physical location and online.
“Women are the major health care providers for their families, and they need to take care of themselves,” said Beverly Rigsby, service line development director, GYN, women’s urology, ENT, and robotic and minimally invasive services. “I am a mother of three girls, and I find it difficult to make time for myself. We make it as simple and easy and in one place as we can.”
There’s no typical female patient that walks through the doors of LLUMC.
“It depends on their age,” said Rigsby. “For younger women, it’s mostly for their yearly GYN appointment, and if they’re pregnant, it’s for OB. Once they hit 45, they go to imaging, and hopefully they never hit cancer. Around 40 to 45, other services that we start using are incontinence for those with difficulty after childbirth, mammograms, and hysterectomy surgery. We do have more female patients, largely because of labor and delivery, but also because women use the health care system more than men.”
Female specific offerings at the LLUMC include female pelvic medicine and reconstructive surgery; women’s imaging; robotic and minimally invasive surgery center; and OB/GYN. Breast ultrasounds, mammograms, robotic or laproscopic surgery, infertility services and women’s heart services are just some of the services.
“With our robotic and minimally invasive surgery center, it causes much less bleeding, less time in hospital, and is much easier on the patient,” Rigsby said. “Usually they can be back to work in a week or two.”
OB brings in women with on-track pregnancies as well as high risk.
“We have high risk OB, so if there’s something wrong or they worry about it, if the mom is high risk, we get all the referrals in the region,” Rigsby said. “We have a fairly large NICU, if they’re worried about the baby being delivered.”
Online, the women’s health website answers common women’s health questions, and has links to specific hospital departments and services, like urogynecology and female pelvic health. Rigsby started the online women’s center in 2006.
“We had a website company that helped us with the structure of it and the outline of it, and I ended up doing a lot of the specific information for each area that pertained to what I was working on,” Rigsby said. “Cancer for example goes to the cancer website after the initial introduction, and the same for heart.”
To promote women’s health even further, LLUMC hosts a women’s health event every November, which features educational sessions, free giveaways and lunch.
“It started three years ago with the marketing department,” Rigsby said. “750 attended last year, and it’s part of our community outreach. Women can come and learn more about their health, and we have keynote speakers. They can learn about how to deal with stress in their life during breakout sessions, as well as about women’s heart conditions, diabetes, weight loss, plastic surgery and incontinence.”
The hospital continues to expand, with LLUMC welcoming new staff members this spring, including a female doctor in the female pelvic medicine reconstructive surgery department.
“That’s big because a lot of women like to go to females,” Rigsby said.
Also coming aboard is a new infertility physician, and soon OB/GYNs will be hired to the growing robotic and minimally invasive surgery department.
“We’ve just hired a new department chair for OB, and he is a gynecologic oncologist,” Rigsby said. “He operates on cancer of the pelvis, uterine, all of those cancers. He is robotic minimally invasive trained, and looking at growing that area by hiring two or three more people to do just minimally invasive surgery for cancer in women.”
While LLUMC doesn’t have a women’s center with everything in one spot, they are working towards that, as well as continuing to get the word out about women’s health.
“I think the website was a start,” Rigsby said. “We’ve been doing seminars in the community, and would like to do more of those. There’s more information we want to get out there.”
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