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Expanding the Horizon of Women's Health

Most Wednesday mornings find Department of Gynecology and Obstetrics Interim Chair, Penny Castellano, MD, making her way to the Glenn Auditorium through the glass-encased corridor at Emory University Hospital Midtown. Early in the morning, with the sun just rising over Midtown Atlanta, she’s joined by other faculty and staff who are headed to the week’s Grand Rounds.

Discussions of clinical cases … sharing new research progress … strategizing growing clinic spaces and services — all this and more takes place from the lobby to the rows of seats in the auditorium. Proof that over the last several years, the numbers of those attending these weekly meetings have grown exponentially and quite intentionally.

Meeting the Ever-changing Needs of Atlanta’s Women

The growth, in both faculty and location, reflects the varied health challenges of the women the department serves and its commitment to best meet those needs. With multiple presences, the Emory Women’s Center and Emory Reproductive Center have worked to meet the reproductive issues and challenges of Atlanta women for more than 75 years. In the last several years, the progressive shift of health services geared to these women has resulted in expanded models of care that are as comprehensive as the health demands of the population they serve. 

Penny Castellano, MD, has focused on implementing programs and services that encompass a woman’s entire lifespan. The programs increasingly integrate subspecialty providers who speak to the nuances of a woman’s health. Moreover, multi-disciplinary clinic settings and comprehensive care offerings have allowed for an expanded footprint outside the metro-Atlanta area. These settings and offerings span the continuum of care from prevention to clinical interventions.

“As the population in Georgia and the Atlanta area continues to grow, Emory’s role remains one of commitment to providing the most advanced and comprehensive care to the women of our region,” Dr. Castellano states. “Given the breadth and depth of the Emory Healthcare team, the academic resources of our University and the advances in medical science that present themselves daily, we are able to leverage our energy and excellence in ways that truly optimize the health of those we serve. Our team continues to grow and expand as the needs of our patients grow. We are bringing our services to more locations to meet those needs.”

Meeting the Growing Demand for Women’s Health Care

The Journal of Women's Health reported in 2013 that the national demand for women's health care is expected to grow six percent by 2020. The majority of those services will be related to ob-gyn (81 percent), and impact women of reproductive age: 18-44 years old. This need ultimately translates to a growing demand for physicians and clinicians.

Dr. Castellano shares, “As scientific discovery continues, and researchers learn new information about how we are physiologically functioning, the demand for new care capabilities increases. The more we understand about what can go wrong, the more we are able to define strategies for cures.

“Women’s health has become scientifically much more complex,” continues Dr. Castellano, “but we are able to offer care that was not thought of just a few years ago. From infertility treatment to cancer therapy to advanced prenatal care and healthy aging, the need for more focused subspecialists is clear.” 

Building the Multi-Disciplinary Model

The multi-disciplinary reproductive care model is one that Emory Department of Gynecology and Obstetrics has continued to refine and offer as an extension of Dr. Horowitz’s vision, one set forth during his tenure as Department Chair.

As it relates to the vision of this model of care, Dr. Horowitz states, “By increasing access to state-of-the-art clinicians, predicated on their teaching and research ties to Emory School of Medicine, new patients are seen quickly and locally. They are no longer restricted by existing practice locations only in Midtown and Decatur. The new sites also ease access worries for existing patients — they can continue being seen and treated close to home.” 

These locations are also a platform for future growth within the Department and the women’s health specialty as a whole.

“We have created a platform that allows our residents, fellows and medical students to learn a more holistic approach to care,” states Dr. Horowitz. “For example, we have created an environment where a woman who has preeclampsia can be seen post-childbirth by a cardiologist. Because she is at higher risk for heart issues as she gets older, this offers a continuum of care that benefits both the patient and the providers who work to address her health needs.”

To best meet community health demands, department faculty at the Saint Joseph’s Emory Women’s Center location and the recently opened campus at Emory Johns Creek are uniting their research efforts, wide-range of specialty and subspecialty expertise, as well as their commitment to women’s health. For instance, the Saint Joseph’s Emory Women’s Center location is the first of its kind in Georgia to combine: 

  • Female Pelvic Medicine and Reconstructive Surgery
  • General Gynecology/Obstetrics and Menopause Care
  • Gynecologic Oncology

Emory Women’s Center Johns Creek will also extend this model of a comprehensive multi-disciplinary practice. When fully realized, the practice will house subspecialty physicians, as well as labor and delivery, under one roof.

In 2017, the doors of the Emory Women’s Center at Johns Creek opened and services began when a urogynecologist and gynecological oncologist were placed. These subspecialties meet a wide array of needs, from minor gynecological issues to minimally invasive surgical procedures for more acute problems. Through the remainder of 2018, the clinic will again expand its service provision reach to offer care for a more extensive array of issues, needs and patients, including a new labor and delivery site and the addition of General Gynecology and Obstetrics services.

By merging academic best practices and local hospital settings, the Emory Department of Gynecology and Obstetrics can continue to meet its strategic goals to place high-levels of care in settings that extend beyond the Metro-Atlanta area.

Expanding the Vision for Women’s Health

 Implementing these strategies has continued to expand the vision for treating women’s health issues and how the Department will accomplish that vision.

“The vision set forth for the Department of Gynecology and Obstetrics is an extension of the Emory vision. It combines research, education and patient care by creating an environment that allows for exemplary care, all while developing the doctors and nurses of tomorrow,” says Dr. Horowitz.

When looking at the future of services provided through Emory’s Department of Gynecology and Obstetrics, as well as expanding the multi-disciplinary women’s health model, Dr. Castellano believes that the ongoing connection to scientific advancement is key. “The real art is keeping the science integrated to provide a collaborative and synergistic approach to patient care,” says Dr. Castellano. “This truly optimizes the health outcomes for our patients.”

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