Women’s Health Care

Women’s Health Care|By Chris Valentine, Penrose-St. Francis Health Services

Women’s Health Care| There are conditions that exist only in women, such as pregnancy and menopause; conditions that occur more frequently in women, such as breast cancer and thyroid disease; and conditions that are biologically different in women, such as cardiac disease and osteoporosis. Penrose-St. Francis Health Services recognizes the need for outstanding women's health care. In fact, HealthGrades ranks us among the top five percent in the nation for the third year in a row when it comes to providing care to women.

“Here at Penrose-St. Francis, we have taken a very specific approach in caring for the unique health needs of women,” said Christine Hildebrant, RN, Regional Director Women's Health Services. “For example, we have established a physician advisory group of female physicians to help guide us on programs and services specifically for women. We continue to partner with other hospitals in the region to create a system of care for high-risk obstetrics, breast cancer care and awareness of cardiovascular health.”

Taking care of your Heart

The professionals in the Emergency Depart and in the Penrose Cardiovascular Center know that women's heart attack symptoms often present differently than men and take extra steps to ensure their symptoms do not go unnoticed. The sooner you can recognize your symptoms and take appropriate action, the better. The symptoms to be aware of are:

• Discomfort, tightness, uncomfortable pressure, fullness, squeezing in the center of the chest lasting more than a few minutes, or comes and goes
• Crushing chest pain
• Pressure or pain that spreads to the shoulders, neck, upper back, jaw, or arms.
• Dizziness or nausea
• Clammy sweats, heart flutters, or paleness
• Unexplained feelings of anxiety, fatigue or weakness - especially with exertion
• Stomach or abdominal pain
• Shortness of breath and difficulty breathing

The most important thing to do if you think you are having heart attack symptoms is to call 911.

Robotic-assisted surgery

Surgeons at Penrose Hospital and St. Francis Medical Center are now using the da Vinci® Surgical System to perform robotic-assisted women’s surgeries, such as hysterectomies and gynecological oncology procedures, leading the way in state-of-the-art technology.

Penrose Cancer Center features southern Colorado's only Gynecologic Oncology specialist, Dirk Pikaart, D.O., providing leading-edge treatment to women with cancer of the reproductive system, including robotic-assisted surgery.

Dr. Pikaart describes how the traditional way of doing some surgeries can leave a large incision and requires a woman to be in the hospital for three or four days. Using robotic-assisted surgery, Dr. Pikaart can reduce the scarring to a minimum and the woman only stays in the hospital for one night. In addition, using the da Vinci® Surgical System cuts recovery time in half, brings wound infection rates down to less than one percent, is less painful and causes less blood loss.

“There is also an emotional benefit to using robotic-assisted surgery,” said Dr. Pikaart. “When a patient comes to see me, they have enough to worry about with their cancer diagnosis. Anything that I can do to make the surgery less painful and offer a shorter recovery time is nothing but positive for the patient. The shorter recovery time is also beneficial to cancer patients because they can get on to their next treatment, such as chemotherapy, that much sooner.”

Penrose-St. Francis Health Services offers a variety of free and low-cost exercise and wellness classes, seminars and events on women's health issues taught by physicians, nurses, dieticians, health educators and other experts in the medical profession. To learn more, simply go to www.penrosestfrancis.org and click on Events and Community.

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