Everyone has his or her own story about living on Virginia’s Middle Peninsula. While the reasons may vary with each
person, they just about always include a combination of family heritage, historical attractions, boating and other recreational activities, scenic charm and a great place to raise kids, away from the commercialization and congestion of more populated areas.
The advantages of living in this region are many, but one of the potential downsides that literally goes with the territory is the need to travel for various necessary services. Traditionally, one of those services has included some aspects of healthcare, and for women, that usually means getting on the highway and heading over the river for certain types of obstetric and gynecological care.
The good news is that a full range of OB-GYN services is available within drives that often fall in the range of 40 minutes to an hour, but we can all benefit from saving a little time. Now, that increased convenience is possible through new and expanded women’s health services available closer to home.
The question and answer-based information that follows comes from two individuals who have close and extensive professional experience in the area of women’s health: Janet DeHoux, NP, a long-time resident of Matthews
County, who through her work as a Nurse Practitioner has helped manage the health of hundreds of women in Middle
Peninsula communities; and Jeffrey Henke, MD, a board certified Obstetrician and Gynecologist who along with Janet
and other care providers, practices in the Gloucester office of Riverside Partners in Women’s Health.
Q: What can women expect to be different in terms of local healthcare resources?
JD: First of all I want to say that any information about obstetrics and gynecology is going to be directed to women. But if you’re a man and you’re still reading, stick with it because there just may be something of value for a family member or friend. Regarding the expansion of care, one of the areas where woman will have more options is in prenatal care during pregnancy and postpartum care after their baby is born.
Working as a team, the nurse practitioners and physicians provide the full range of prenatal care right up to the
delivery. That means there’s not going to be any sense of being handed off to some provider you haven’t had a chance to spend time with before the baby is born. After that, the postpartum care is also going to be carried out with people who know you with no need to travel any farther than Gloucester.
JH: I think the kind of continuity that Janet is talking about is important in every case, but even more so for women
who may have some special concerns related to pregnancy and delivery.
Q: Speaking of delivery, what’s involved in that part of the care?
JH: The physicians in our practice deliver at Riverside Regional Medical Center, so that’s one of the few times that the
care resources remain in the area but not quite as local. The advantage there is that the medical center has the region’s only Neonatal Intensive Care Unit in case the baby had any special needs. There’s also a Maternal Fetal Medicine capability. This subspecialty manages high risk pregnancies including complications like preterm
labor and pre-eclampsia. The chances of actually needing NICU and MFM services are low, but I think it’s very comforting to know they are available.
Q: What about gynecologic care? Will surgical procedures done locally?
JD: A good portion of GYN treatments are medical or non-surgical, so we’re able to take care of that, too. And the services we provide begin with adolescent vaccines and continue throughout a woman’s entire life span. We also are able to do most outpatient gynecologic surgeries here.
JH: I think it’s important to mention that the majority of GYN surgeries that I and my colleagues do are outpatient, so we should emphasize that most procedures, more than 90% actually, can be performed at Riverside Walter Reed Hospital. As techniques continue to improve and we do more and more minimally invasive procedures the need for inpatient surgery will become even more infrequent. That’s the trend in surgery in general and it’s certainly true for women’s health.
Q: Are there any other local women’s health resources that are available on more local basis?
JH: Yes, something else that the OB-GYN physicians at Riverside Partners in Women’s Health will be doing is
providing Emergency Room coverage at Walter Reed.
JD: I think it’s also important to look at the fact that having access to reliable information is something that be achieved with less amount of travel out of the area. A lot of women get information related to conditions or concerns online and that’s great. It’s helpful for us when someone is motivated to learn more about their health. That’s something we would always encourage. But I think having real people to talk with, particularly when those people
are close to home and knowledgeable and experienced in the area of women’s health is also essential.
Part of what we do is to supplement what people are getting from online sources. In many cases, we help interpret
it and make it relevant to their specific health situation.
I’ve been involved in women’s health for over 20 years and what I’ve seen in the health and wellness education efforts I’ve been part of is that the first step toward better health is better preventive care, and better preventive care starts with better information. And it’s important for me to know that people aren’t just taking that information in but that they also clearly understand it. I feel that all of my colleagues in the Gloucester practice share that commitment
to follow up. The educational component and everything we do is definitely a team effort, and I would add that it’s a
team that has provided care for me as well as for my family, so I’m very gratified to be part of it.
To schedule an appointment with Janet DeHoux, Dr. Henke or other providers in Riverside Partners in Women’s
Health, please call (757) 243-2169.