New center at LMH West will bring variety of health care for women under one roof
photo by: Nick Krug
The new Women’s Center at LMH West was designed with convenience, time and care for patients in mind. One major goal was to provide a center for patients that could handle most of the care they needed all under one roof, with several services just a short walk away from one another.
Megan Pedersen, director of specialty clinics, said this multidisciplinary approach of providing care was a major focus in the planning and design of the new LMH West facility.
“There has been much thought put into making it convenient for women to get the care they need in a way that will allow them to live their lives to the fullest by getting some time in their days back,” she said. “We are going to make it easier for women to get the care they need.”
Here is a look at some of the services that will be provided at the new LMH Health West Campus:
Michele Bennett, a physician with Lawrence OB-GYN Specialists, was one of five physicians at LMH Health to take the North American Menopause Society (NAMS) certification exam. To receive this certification, physicians receive additional education on caring for menopausal patients — specifically those whose cases are most complicated.
“We are excited to continue growing our menopause services,” she said. “We want to offer our patients the best care and experience possible. Receiving extra training in some more difficult menopause cases allows me and our team to offer my patients all potential treatment options.”
When it comes to menopause care, it often isn’t a topic Bennett handles alone. Having colleagues close by who are involved in the patient’s care will create a team for long-term solutions.
“When it comes to complicated cases, we are often calling on other subspecialties to see that we are all on the same page,” she said. “Having many of these clinics we rely on in one location will be amazing. We will be able to partner and collaborate with them better and more efficiently because we will be so close in proximity.”
Pelvic floor health
Kathy Ramirez, an advanced practice provider with Lawrence Urology Specialists, says when it comes to pelvic floor issues, they often go unspoken about. Pelvic floor health often involves issues that support a woman’s bladder, colon, rectum and sexual organs.
“On average, a woman deals with pelvic floor issues for seven years before they are addressed,” she said. “I am so excited to be going deeper into this area of focus out at West because so many women do not talk about topics like prolapse or incontinence often enough. It can be rather taboo, and I want to break down this stereotype.”
Ramirez says she tells her patients that issues like these are common and that there is often a fix for them. There is no reason to suffer alone, and it is OK to talk about these issues.
“Addressing pelvic floor conditions can be life-changing,” Ramirez said. “It’s not OK to live in pain and in fear. Procedures and physical therapy can be a game-changer for some women in these areas.”
Physical therapy will be housed directly next to pelvic health. Being able to conveniently schedule an appointment immediately may be the difference between patients saying yes or no.
“Often, if I offer treatment to my patients and when they hear about the time commitment and scheduling, they sigh and say they’ll think about it,” Ramirez said. “Most of the time we don’t hear back from them. Now, since physical therapy is directly next to us, they can step in as soon as I leave the room. If we need advice from another person in the field, they are close by. There will be little need to drive across town for another clinic over a few days. Now it is all in one convenient location.”
Scarlett Aldrich, a physician with Plastic Surgery Specialists of Lawrence, said she is excited to focus her time at the West Campus on breast care. She said she’s looking forward to the calming environment of the new building, as well as the ability to give patients several kinds of care in one location.
“Talking about breast cancer and cancer care is a hard topic and can be overwhelming to patients,” she said. “The West Campus is so open and filled with light, which creates a lot of peace and calm when patients come for visits. Providing the opportunity for women to combine several aspects of their care at one time will efficiently bundle and minimize the time spent in a doctor’s office so that they can focus on maximizing their quality of life everywhere else.”
Many other providers and clinic staff will be available to assist in coordinating future appointments and help to minimize appointment time and maximize time away from the hospital.
“It also promotes easy and efficient communication between providers when our offices will be just steps away from one another,” Aldrich said. “This is an exciting step forward in the future of LMH Health.”
Jennifer Hawasli joins LMH Health as one of the newest members of the Women’s Center team. She is a physician who is fellowship-trained in breast surgical oncology and is excited to bring the latest advancements in care to her patients.
“From the breast center, mammography, plastics, radiology and even outpatient surgery, having all of these services in one place helps ease anxiety for breast patients,” Hawasli said. “Today, breast cancer can be treatable but requires multidisciplinary care, and patients have to go to multiple physicians. Decreasing locations and bringing many members of the breast cancer team under one roof helps decrease stressors.”
A focus on reproductive mental health
Melissa Hoffman, a psychiatric mental health nurse practitioner who focuses on treatment for people during their reproductive years, will be helping to care for mothers in the LMH Health Women’s Center. She started Build Your Village, a group at LMH Health that offers peer support for pregnant and parenting people to talk about mental health during pregnancy and postpartum periods.
“One in five people will experience a depressive episode in pregnancy or after the birth of a baby,” Hoffman said. “The prevalence of perinatal mental health complications (is) even higher when you consider anxiety and rates of behavioral health issues such as substance use disorders. Offering integrated mental health care in the women’s center increases access to mental and physical care all in one setting.”
Hoffman’s services go beyond just new mothers. They also include management of psychiatric illness during reproductive events, such as the menstrual cycle, pregnancy, lactation, infertility, perimenopause and menopause. Having these services at the LMH Health West Campus to coincide with other gynecological and women’s health experts will allow patients to receive the holistic care they need while addressing concerns with multiple specialized providers, she said.
“LMH West can streamline and optimize care for women,” Bennett said. “We can now provide the same quality of care more conveniently and efficiently. Our patients will gain time back in their days and be able to live their lives to the fullest.”
–Jessica Brewer is social media and digital communication specialist at LMH Health, which is a major sponsor of the Lawrence Journal-World’s health section.
SPECIAL SECTION: LMH West
240,000 square feet. 3 floors. $101 million. Take a look inside a major health project in west Lawrence.