Ensuring quality women’s health services

U.P. Health System-Portage hospital photo The team at UP Health Sytems - Portage and the Upper Great Lakes Health Center combine their efforts to ensure quality women’s health care services.

UP Health Systems – Portage (UPHS-Portage) and Upper Great Lakes Family Health Center (UGL) collaborate efforts to ensure comprehensive women’s health care services are available to everyone. UGL provides high quality, out-patient services including patient education, family planning, routine care, minor procedures, surgical planning, enabling services, care management and financial services. UPHS – Portage expands and complements the women’s health care service line by providing a State of the Art surgical suite, attentive and comfortable post op care, as well as a Family Birthing Center designed with the family in mind. It allows for a family-centered environment in which mom and baby and support person are together in one room during the entire stay. Nurses are trained in postpartum and newborn care and teach bathing, swaddling, feeding and comforting techniques as well as how to recognize a baby’s cues and states of awareness. UPHS-Portage and UGL work together to ensure patients are receiving the best care possible in a safe, well equipped and convenient location where each person is encouraged to live life to the best of their ability.

UPHS-Portage and UGL are fortunate to share three Board Certified physicians (Dr. Theresa Holladay, Dr. Sheryl Parks and Dr. Joe-la DeWitt) and certified nurse midwife Renee O’Neill.

“Much in the way a pilot flying a plane needs an airport and support crew to safely do their job, UGL Ob/Gyns need both UGL and UPHS-Portage to effectively do our jobs,” said Dr. DeWitt.

But what exactly is it that Obstetricians and Gynecologists do? Obstetrics involves preparation before pregnancy and into a healthy delivery.

“Sometimes it’s important to see a doctor before you plan on conceiving,” said Dr. Sheryl Parks, another OB-GYN at the Upper Great Lakes Family Health Center. Obstetricians are also more able to handle problem pregnancies and high-risk pregnancies than other health care providers.

In addition to their medical degrees, Obstetricians go through four years of training as well as continual training throughout their careers.

Gynecology is related, but is not limited to conception and birth.

“Gynecology deals with women and the aspects of being a woman that are unique,” said Dr. DeWitt.

Most patients start seeing their gynecologist around the beginning of puberty, but some people may see their gynecologist at younger ages.

“I’ve seen patients as young as two,” said Dr. Parks, “It’s on an as-needed basis.”

OB-GYNs are considered primary care physicians as well, but specialize in problems unique to women and women’s preventative care.

“Your primary care provider can do a full physical, but [going to an OB-GYN] is nice for a woman because that is our area of expertise,” said Dr. DeWitt, “Sometimes you’re not comfortable talking to the doctor you see regularly for you and your family’s overall health about more intimate concerns which is why an Ob/Gyn can work in conjunction with a woman’s primary care provider to ensure she receive complete care.”

As is the case for dealing with a primary care provider, female patients are advised to see an OB-GYN at least once a year for preventative care.

While midwives are not medical doctors, they are required to complete a certified nurse midwife program. Midwives are experts in all aspects of childbirth.

“From preconception to post-partum” said Renee O’Neil, a Midwife with the Upper Great Lakes Family Health Center. “We provide education to help women to be partners in their healthcare… I’m able to sit down and spend more time with a client [than an OB-GYN].”

Dr. Theresa Holladay, an OB-GYN at the Upper Great Lakes Family Health Center, agrees.

“Midwives have different tools in their toolbox than I do,” she said.

Having a midwife on staff assists with coverage in the health center when a physician is “on call” and needs to deliver babies, an event celebrated at Portage with the playing of “Brahm’s Lullaby” over the PA system.

“Having to be in and out can really throw off a patient visit,” said Dr. Holladay. “There are days that I could be in the operating room all day, and I’m really glad that Renee is there to take good care of my patients while I’m gone.”

While most people have a general idea of what these positions are, most people are not aware of all of the services that they offer, or have fears and misconceptions about them.

“There’s a fear in general just like the fear of going to the dentist, where the first thing you do is see this tray of instruments laid out for you and you start panicking and think, ‘oh man, what are they going to do with all that?’,” said Dr. DeWitt, “You don’t have to be afraid, you can come in and we can just talk.”

To set up an appointment with an OB-GYN or to learn more about the services offered by OB-GYNs and Midwives www.uglhealth.org or call the health center at (906)483-1050.

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