Women are special. And their health care should be, too.
That’s why tailored “just for women” healthcare is what we do best across our network of care at Florida Hospital for Women. Dr. Lori Boardman, executive director for women's health, shares how Florida Hospital for Women provides a connected network of personalized care for life.
The Building Blocks of “Just for Women” Care
When people think of women’s health, most jump right to reproductive medicine, but a whole-person approach to care involves much more. According to Dr. Boardman, “The goal with Florida Hospital for Women was to look at women’s health not just from a reproductive standpoint but across a woman’s lifespan and outside of the traditional disciplines that automatically come to mind.”
Dr. Boardman adds that this inspired the Florida Hospital for Women to create a more women-focused, integrated program that provides comprehensive health care in the way that’s most convenient for women throughout every stage of life. That said, here are five ways Dr. Boardman has lead a “just for women” health care system that shines.
1. Tailored Health Care for a Woman’s Physiology and Needs
Women have a different physiological make-up compared to men. For example, women may metabolize certain drugs, present with disease and even respond to treatments in different ways than men. “At Florida Hospital for Women, we’re focused on being more nuanced in how we deliver care and consider the individual woman’s complete medical picture.”
Dr. Boardman adds that women’s care at Florida Hospital for Women has an emphasis on the prevention, early detection and treatment of cardiac (heart) disease and cancer because these diseases are both prevalent, and at times, express themselves in ways not well understood until more recently.
For example, Dr. Boardman explains that cardiac disease can present very differently in women compared to men. “If we look at cardiac disease, certain symptoms, such as chest pain and pressure or shortness of breath, have historically been considered typical symptoms of a heart attack. Over time, we have discovered that some women — and even some men — experiencing a heart attack will present with symptoms such as nausea, dizziness, fainting, or extreme fatigue.”
The American Heart Association has recognized differences in not only how women present with heart attacks, but also the physiological mechanisms underlying such events as well as clinical outcomes (for example, women are less likely to be referred to a cardiologist). “When building our women’s care program, we recognize these differences and are creating models of care to account for them,” Dr. Boardman notes.
2. Convenient, Accessible Women’s Care
Women have a lot on their plate, serving many roles for their families, professions, and communities. Knowing this, Florida Hospital for Women aims to raise awareness about how important it is for women to make their health a priority. Making care convenient is one way we help to protect their well-being. “We put systems in place to be more flexible in how we try to integrate services so that our female patients are more likely to get the services that they need in a timely fashion,” says Dr. Boardman.
One example of how Florida Hospital is doing this is through our integrated patient portal systems. “The portal allows patients to easily log in and find their and their family’s information so they don't have to call or wait for something to come in the mail,” notes Boardman. This technology also puts patients’ medical information at the fingertips of their medical provider.
“We’re dedicated to helping women, and that means thinking about childcare, times of the day that we need to be open for services, and having a better understanding of our patients’ schedules and needs,” says Boardman.
3. A Network of Women’s Care for Life
When you hear the word “hospital,” you might think of white sterile walls and long hallways, but there’s a different thought at Florida Hospital. Dr. Boardman explains, “The hospital is more than just this building or our campuses; it really exists throughout the community.”
She adds, “The hospital is here when you need critical or higher level care, but out in the community, we want to make sure women keep connected to their providers — and connected to us; we focus on delivering care to patients where they are, whether it's in a hospital, an office setting or clinic, a mobile unit, or a freestanding emergency room,” Dr. Boardman emphasizes.
She adds, “We have navigators on the campuses that help women to find the best place to locate an internal medicine provider or family medicine provider, a specialist, or even where they can take their child for the best pediatric care.”
This tailored approach to women’s care spans any age. “We are here for you from adolescence going forward to provide the health care services you need.”
4. Comprehensive Women’s Care
In addition to providing a vast list of medical specialty services, Florida Hospital for Women’s individual care plan approach is also quite comprehensive.
For example, behavioral health services for pregnant and postpartum moms struggling with depression will soon be available. Recent data indicates that mental health disorders have become a leading contributor to maternal deaths in the months after childbirth. Early recognition of symptoms and prompt management have been shown to be effective in reducing the risk of more serious complications of depression.
This is just one example of how Florida Hospital for Women keeps women connected with comprehensive services. Whether it’s locating a primary care doctor or finding behavioral services, patients are directed to the care they need as quickly and efficiently as possible to keep health and well-being continuous. According to Dr. Boardman, “We’ve tried to try to make things as convenient and as comprehensive as we can in one place.”
5. Compassionate Women’s Preventive Care
Florida Hospital for Women understands that it’s challenging to keep up with annual check-ups and routine medical care, especially if you’re concerned about your health and charged with taking care of others.
“It’s hard for women to not put off annual checkups, particularly if they fear something may be wrong; a lot of women are afraid and don't want to know more about what could be a health concern,” explains Dr. Boardman. She continues, “My advice to women relates to the analogy of the safety instructions given on a plane: put the face mask on yourself first because you're not going to be able to help anyone else if you don't put your health as your top priority.”
Helping women get screenings for good health is a focus of Florida Hospital for Women, which includes monitoring routine blood work for cholesterol, and encouraging mammograms, cervical cancer screenings and other screening measures that can prevent future health problems.
“We help women by ensuring the quality and convenience of our screenings and preventive exams, and extend a compassionate hand when needed — we’re really good at that,” adds Dr. Boardman.
She also suggests reaching out to a friend or support network who can be by your side to comfort you during an appointment, if needed. Boardman concludes, “In addition to your friends, family and community, we are always a trusted resource to encourage your lifelong health journey.”