Women’s History Month 2012 – community engagement mission

March 12, 2012 College News - In honor of Women’s History Month, the Medical College of Wisconsin has created a series of video vignettes and stories that will be posted on InfoScope during the month of March. The vignettes highlight some of our women faculty, staff and students and the contributions they have made. The stories highlight MCW programs that improve women’s health or help develop women students, physicians, researchers, educators and leaders.

The second story in the series features MCW community engagement efforts aimed at improving women’s health. In addition to providing affordable care to women in the community, College faculty, staff and students are involved in numerous education opportunities that promote women’s health. Some of these community outreach efforts are listed below. All of the vignettes and stories will be added to the College's Women's History Month 2012 Web page as they are published.

Community Education

The College has established a series of core lectures on women’s health for presentations in the community. Patient and family support groups are also led by MCW, including a gynecologic oncology group that meets monthly. Each support group session offers a timely topic with an outside speaker, a physician present to answer questions, and a chance to mingle with women who have a similar diagnosis.

Breast Cancer Prevention

Froedtert Hospital Foundation, in partnership with the Department of Family and Community Medicine, has undertaken two American Cancer Society-funded projects that are aimed at breast cancer prevention through community education. In one of the projects targeting early detection of breast cancer in high-risk African-American women, MCW faculty members are evaluating the effectiveness of a documentary film that showcases Milwaukee survivors who share their stories. The goal of this project is to establish and facilitate a breast health-screening plan for first-degree relatives of Milwaukee African-American survivors of pre-menopausal breast cancer.  

The second project is encouraging African-American women to better adhere to American Cancer Society recommendations for early breast cancer detection, which includes reducing the amount of time for follow-up in cases where abnormal mammograms occur. The project design implements community-based participatory research that involves input from the community as well as medical experts.

In a third project, MCW is teaming with the United Community Center to identify the best ways to educate Latina women in Milwaukee on breast cancer prevention.

Kohl’s Conversations for the Cure

The Center for Healthy Communities and Research at MCW is the evaluator for Kohl’s Conversations for the Cure, a series of educational sessions where women can openly discuss breast cancer and the potential impact on their lives. The goal of these sessions is to encourage women to get regular breast health screenings, thereby increasing survival rates throughout southeast Wisconsin.

Homeless Outreach in Medical Education

Medical College Homeless Outreach in Medical Education (HOME) students are medical students with an interest in homeless health. Through collaboration with the Milwaukee Women’s Center, HOME students have undertaken tasks that help the center fulfill its mission. That mission is to provide holistic care to empower women and families who are experiencing abuse to live safe, independent and healthy lives. Throughout the year, the HOME students provide health education classes at the Women’s Center and tutor homeless children.

On April 21, HOME students are holding a Women’s Health Fair at the Women’s Center, where they will provide basic health screens, nutrition information, physician consultation in the form of an “Ask the Doctor” booth, and guidance on prevention of women’s cancers, infant sleeping death and dental issues.

Healthier Wisconsin Partnership Program

The Medical College’s Healthier Wisconsin Partnership Program supports community-MCW partnerships that address public and community health improvement. Of the 128 projects HWPP has funded, 37 are related to women as the primary audience.  More than $8 million has been provided to organizations across the state through Impact and Development awards to develop, implement or evaluate health promotion or health-related prevention activities affecting women’s health.  Funded project activities have ranged from improving the health of women and families in rural Wisconsin through interventions, to increase levels of physical activity and healthy eating patterns, to increasing access to health screening, preventive education and advocacy for underserved women who are involved with the criminal justice system in Milwaukee. Other projects have included:

  • Circles of Sisters:  Enhancing Family Development with Doula Care for Beloit Teen Mothers and their Children
  • Family Risk Reduction Intervention with Female Juvenile Delinquents
  • Healthcare Can Change From Within: A Sustainable Model for Intimate Partner Violence
  • Holistic Health Planning for Women Offenders
  • Domestic Violence Screening in South Central Wisconsin
  • PEARLS for Teen Girls High Risk Intervention

More information on any of these HWPP funded projects is available on their Web site.

Sharing Emerging Issues with the Broader Medical Community

The Women’s Health Research Program holds an ongoing seminar and interactive group discussion that puts Medical College experts together with diverse groups of researchers, doctors, and other healthcare providers to discuss emerging issues related to women’s health. The program attracts a wide audience from the local healthcare community and the College’s hospital affiliates. Nearly two dozen sessions have been held on topics ranging from maternal outcomes following complications at childbirth, chronic pain, genetics of obesity, toxin exposure in utero, breast cancer prevention, and outcomes following breast cancer care.

Women’s Health Conference

Last spring, the Medical College’s Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology sponsored the Women’s Health Conference. The audience for the conference included family practitioners, obstetricians/gynecologists, nurse practitioners, certified nurse midwives, and registered nurses. Topics at the conference included guidelines on new vaginal birth after cesarean, contraceptive options for the medically complex patient, gynecologic care of HIV positive women, and preconception counseling. A similar event is planned for 2012.

 Planned Parenthood

The medical director for Planned Parenthood of Wisconsin is an MCW physician in the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology who actively sees patients in both the Milwaukee and West Allis Planned Parenthood clinics. Planned Parenthood provides affordable reproductive healthcare to thousands of women every year. Additional MCW faculty members offer clinical care and consultation at the agency.

Obstetric and Gynecology Care for HIV patients

Patients with HIV are referred from the Froedtert Infectious Disease Clinic to the Obstetrics and Gynecology Clinic where a Medical College physician provides care in a setting dedicated to women with HIV.

Engaging the Community for the Future

As part to the Women's Health Research Program, MCW faculty members are meeting with community members and potential collaborators to build initiatives that improve women's health. These future community engagement projects include:

  • Community and academic lectures across Eastern Wisconsin, including a series of core lectures on ovarian cancer, HPV vaccination, uterine cancer, cancer and women, and developments in personal genomics-based treatments for cancer;
  • Monthly seminars on research topics involving women’s health, including sponsoring a meeting on TMJ (a joint disorder common in women) and endometriosis;
  • Expansion of the College's relationship with Planned Parenthood to include identifying and treating key needs of women in the region;
  • Establishing a gynecologic oncology patient and family support group.