Women’s History Month 2012 – patient care mission

March 19, 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 third story in the series features MCW patient care programs that address women’s health issues. All of the vignettes and stories will be added to the College's Women's History Month 2012 Web page as they are published.

Preventive Medicine for Women’s Health

Physicians and staff in the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology care for women with a range of concerns including routine prenatal care, well-woman exams for PAP smears, breast and pelvic exams; abnormal menstrual bleeding; benign tumors of the uterus and ovaries such as fibroids and cysts; abnormal PAP smears; and routine contraceptive management. The majority of physicians from the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology have been named to Best Doctors in America.

In addition, many of these health care providers have special areas of interest to provide care for women with more complicated gynecologic problems, some of which are highlighted below.

Caring for Women with Fetal Concerns

The Fetal Concerns Program is a joint effort between the Froedtert & The Medical College of Wisconsin Birth Center and Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin. The program offers a full range of care when there is a fetal health concern in pregnancy. Caregivers of the Fetal Concerns Program provide diagnosis of birth defects, medical care for the infant, a specially trained nurse to help coordinate care, and, when appropriate, assistance in creating palliative care plans. Conditions commonly treated for infants in this program include abdominal wall defects, heart defects, genetic disorders, spina bifida, chest lesions, cleft lip and palate, urologic problems, neurologic problems, multiple fetuses and prematurity risk counseling. Consultation and support throughout the pregnancy, delivery and the baby’s first year are provided.

Solving Fertility Issues

The Froedtert & The Medical College of Wisconsin Reproductive Medicine Clinic is one of the only fertility programs in the Midwest offering complete fertility evaluation and treatment services for men and women. The physicians here are subspecialty trained in infertility. As a team, they discuss the best way to treat each couple’s unique situation. This means patients get the opinion of not one, but three infertility experts.

Treating Women's Incontinence and Improving Sexual Health

The Women’s Incontinence and Sexual Health Program specializes in diagnosing and treating a wide range of pelvic disorders and sexual health issues. A multidisciplinary team of experienced Medical College physician specialists understands the personal nature of these conditions, and they provide confidential, compassionate and individualized care. The expertise of this program’s staff combined with its scope of services, makes it unique in Wisconsin.

Convenient and Comprehensive Care for Women’s Cancers

Medical College doctors who are fellowship-trained in gynecology, oncology and radiation oncology treat women with breast and gynecologic cancers at the Froedtert & The Medical College Clinical Cancer Center. State-of-the-art diagnostic and treatment options, including participation in clinical trials, are offered. Unlike many cancer treatment facilities, MCW specialists from gynecology, radiology, radiation oncology, and pathology oversee a patient’s chemotherapy treatment within the Cancer Center rather than referring her elsewhere for that portion of treatment. A team of experts follows each patient from screening to diagnosis, treatment and after-care.

Improving the Cancer-Killing Odds with Pioneers of Radiation Technologies

Radiation has been used in the treatment of gynecologic and breast cancer since the early 1900s. Brachytherapy or implantation of radioactive sources into or near a tumor was one of the first forms of radiation treatment available to these patients.  Currently brachytherapy is used to treat many gynecologic cancers and select breast cancers.

Some of these brachytherapy techniques were pioneered and developed in the Department of Radiation Oncology at Froedtert & The Medical College of Wisconsin, including breast brachytherapy and CT and MR-guided gynecologic brachytherapy.

College physicians have a long history of success in treating women’s cancers, particularly through the use of a combination of external beam irradiation and brachytherapy, which delivers highly tailored doses of radiation to tumors with relative sparing of the nearby healthy organs. This effective approach applies as well to tumors of the bladder, urethra, rectum and anus where radiation is often combined with surgery and chemotherapy to cure disease and preserve function of important adjacent organs. In cancers of the cervix and vagina, for example, radiation has been used to cure advanced disease with preservation of the bladder and rectosigmoid. Surgery for similar stage patients might include the more drastic procedure of removing all organs from the pelvic cavity. In cancers of the breast, cosmetic preservation has been achieved through use of limited surgery and radiation to the breast, and if appropriate, the regional lymph nodes. This has provided an excellent alternative to mastectomy with equivalent survival.

Use of highly sophisticated imaging techniques both for the staging of the cancer as well as for radiation planning and delivery, combined with physician expertise in the field of radiation, have significantly improved outcomes for many women with cancer. At Froedtert & The Medical College of Wisconsin Clinical Cancer Center, there is a priority on interdisciplinary care with input from surgeons, radiation oncologists, medical/gynecologic oncologists, pathologists, and radiologists. All of these strategies are pivotal in curing cancer in women while preserving quality of life.

Controlling Osteoporosis: A Special Concern for Women

MCW's multidisciplinary osteoporosis program addresses the many potential contributing factors for patients with bone loss. The majority of the patients seen at the clinics are women, and the clinics have specialists in endocrinology, rheumatology and internal medicine. These specialists have clinical expertise in postmenopausal osteoporosis, osteoporosis related to cancer treatments, and two other forms of osteoporosis more common in women than men—those related to rheumatic and endocrine diseases. Faculty members of the osteoporosis program hold national leadership posts in physician organizations related to osteoporosis, and have research programs in osteoporosis related to breast cancer treatments, and the adverse effects of osteoporosis medications. The availability of on-site testing and treatment facilities, including physical therapy and exercise instruction, are unique features of the program that provide comfort and convenience for osteoporosis patients.

Improving Health of Unborn At-Risk Children and Their Mothers

Pregnant women in Southeast Wisconsin at high risk of poor birth outcomes are being cared for by MCW physicians in the Department of Family and Community Medicine through the Medicaid-sponsored Obstetric Medical Home Pilot Program. The program encompasses a dozen partner care facilities that provide healthcare professionals for home visits as well as access to information and services that will reduce the odds of premature birth and infant mortality, and increase healthy birth weights in high-risk pregnant women.

Addressing Gynecologic Needs of Tomorrow’s Women

Medical College physicians treat girls from infancy through adolescence at Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin Gynecology Clinic. A gynecologist, adolescent medicine physician, certified pediatric nurse practitioner, registered nurse, dietician and, if appropriate, a social worker, work together to treat problems of puberty, vaginal abnormalities, ovarian cysts, pelvic pain, menstrual disorders and hormonal issues.

Affordable Care for Teen Girls at Downtown Health Center

Medical College doctors and staff, in collaboration with Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin, provide high quality, affordable health care to teen girls at the Downtown Health Center’s Adolescent Clinic. The clinic offers primary care and a range of reproductive health service. There is also a Teen-Tot Clinic at the Downtown Health Center where Medical College doctors see teen moms along with their babies during the same clinic visit. Care for this group of mothers is provided until their 21st birthday. In addition, adolescent nurse practitioners care for pregnant teens at Custer High School.