[4 MIN READ]
In this article:
- Women’s health care needs are often overlooked, but there is a growing demand for specialized women’s care.
- Our new Women’s Wellness & Specialty GYN Services, First Hill, opened on Dec. 13 thanks to the generous philanthropic support of our community.
- The new clinic’s long-term plans include adding an array of services to provide holistic care for women of all ages.
Women’s health care needs are often overlooked. Broadly speaking, “women’s health” as we have known it, refers to reproductive care and tends to focus only on the reproductive years of a woman’s life – even though many women do not have children. That thinking is changing, especially as nearly 1.3 million women (and some trans men) in the U.S. become menopausal each year. According to the North American Menopause Society, by 2025, around 12% of the world’s population will have reached menopause. It’s clear that women need more care specific to them. And care that focuses on health beyond childbearing years.
In response, Swedish has opened our new Swedish Women’s Wellness & Specialty GYN Services, First Hill. The clinic, which opened on Dec. 13, features a team of expert gynecologists who will see women of all ages and offer a full range of treatment for women’s health conditions and concerns. We’re excited to share more about this new clinic, which wouldn’t have been possible without the kind philanthropic support of our community.
New women’s wellness clinic responds to women’s health needs
As the clinic opens this month, we spoke with the Medical Director of Menopause and Women’s Wellness and GYN Specialties at Swedish, Rebecca Dunsmoor-Su, M.D., who leads the new Women’s Wellness Clinic.
Q: How did Swedish Women's Wellness & Specialty GYN Services, First Hill come about?
A: Several years ago we brought together a group of women from the community, donors, and stakeholders to talk about what was needed to support women beyond their childbearing years. These talking sessions and cocktail hours (which were held in person, before COVID) exposed the need in the community for a place focused on the needs of women as they age, from primary care and gynecologic perspective.
Q: What type of care does the clinic offer?
A: Swedish Women’s Wellness & Specialty GYN Services, First Hill is a specialized gynecologic clinic. Currently, the conditions we most commonly see and treat are menopause, urinary incontinence, prolapse, sexual pain or dysfunction, vulvar or vaginal disorders, and pelvic pain. We also see patients for general gynecological problems such as abnormal bleeding, irregular menses (periods), abnormal pap smears or infections, and some annual gynecologic exams and follow-up.
In time, we plan to expand to having onsite specialty care for behavioral health, cardiology and possibly physical therapy.
Additionally, we continue to support women’s health in our community with the wide range of surgical options available at the newly opened Swedish Minimally Invasive Gynecologic Surgery, First Hill.
Q: What can you do for patients who need services the clinic doesn’t provide?
A: We are uniquely placed to be the hub for women to come to find coordinated services and care. We pride ourselves on collaboration and will always communicate with the referring OB-GYN or primary care provider. We also have connections in endocrinology, bone health, cardiology, and behavioral health, among others, that allow us to refer patients to other providers. They have a unique understanding of women’s physiology and needs as they age.
Q: What does my care team look like at the clinic?
A: As the medical director of the clinic, I focus on general gynecology, menopause care, vulvar and vaginal disorders, and pain. I perform gynecologic surgery for abnormal uterine bleeding, bleeding in menopause as well as some laparoscopy procedures. I am excited to offer a new level of care along with my colleagues.
Dr. Ashley Fuller is a board-certified gynecologist. Her practice focuses on women’s sexual health and pain disorders. And she’s an expert in vulvar and vaginal disorders. She is a certified menopause practitioner and a member of the International Society for the Study of Women’s Health. Dr. Birte Wolf is a board-certified urogynecologist who will be joining the group from her practice in the Detroit area. She focuses on treating urologic issues in women, including prolapse, incontinence, and pelvic pain. We also have two advanced registered nurse practitioners (ARNPs) joining the clinic.
Q: What makes this the right choice for women seeking care that’s different from a traditional facility or OB-GYN?
A: Women would choose us if they are looking for care that’s continued over time as they age with issues related to menopause and gynecology. It’s what we call longitudinal care. If a woman has been seeing her regular gynecologist and needs more specialized care, she might come to our clinic.
We work well with our OB-GYN colleagues outside of the clinic, and many patients are comfortable moving back and forth between us. For example, we do not provide pregnancy care at the clinic, so patients who become pregnant will be referred to our Swedish OB-GYN specialists.
Often a general OB-GYN might suggest a patient see us for a specific problem or concern. This is true also of our Swedish primary care network.
Q: Can you tell us more about future plans for the clinic and its relationship with the Swedish community?
A: This clinic only exists because of our amazing donors. They have seen this clinic from its original vision to the (near) opening. We have great plans for future projects. These include community and group education about healthy longevity; lifestyle classes, including shopping and cooking for menopause (in partnership with the Weight Loss Services Center); expanded primary care directly connected to the clinic; cardiology, pelvic floor physical therapy, and even sexual health support; and more mental health support, including a psychiatric position within our clinic. This will be a provider who has specific expertise in reproductive psychiatry, specifically peri-menopause and menopause.
All of these will be made possible by donors who support these programs as we get them off the ground and make them successful.
Giving back for women’s health
We are grateful for the generosity of our donors for making the Women’s Wellness Clinic possible. Swedish is one of the largest not-for-profit health care providers in the greater Seattle area. Because of our supporters, we are able to give our patients the best, most advanced care. These gifts allow us to expand our programs and discover new and better ways to give patients and the community the care they need.
At the Women’s Wellness Clinic, Dr. Dunsmoor-Su and her team have already hosted a series of educational events on menopause, heart health, and healthy aging. And they’re just getting started.
If you would like to support this work and the Women’s Wellness Clinic, consider making a donation. With your support, we will continue providing innovative care for all women.
To make an appointment at the Swedish Women’s Wellness & Specialty GYN Services, First Hill, call 206-215-9071.
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This information is not intended as a substitute for professional medical care. Always follow your healthcare professional’s instructions.
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