Keeping women healthy: GBMC has a long history of excellence in women's healthcare

GBMC HealthCare was created in 1965 from the merged operations of two specialty hospitals in Baltimore: The Hospital for the Women of Maryland, of Baltimore City, which opened in 1882, and Presbyterian Eye, Ear and Throat Charity Hospital, which originated in 1887. Fifty years after its founding, it remains at the leading edge of delivering comprehensive, compassionate women’s healthcare.

GBMC is home to some of the region’s finest maternity services, including prenatal genetic testing, state-of-the-art labor and delivery rooms, homelike high-risk obstetrics and postpartum units as well as an advanced neonatal intensive care unit (NICU). Its Women’s Surgical Center is dedicated to providing surgical and post-operative care for women who suffer from breast and gynecologic conditions, including cancer. And GBMC’s Sandra & Malcolm Berman Comprehensive Breast Care Center offers onsite imaging, cyst aspiration and minimally invasive breast biopsies, as well as mammography, breast cancer risk assessments and surgical intervention if necessary.

“From the very beginning, there was a focus on women’s health and that focus has continued,” said Joan Blomquist, M.D., Division Head of Urogynecology at GBMC. “We have a reputation for being a place where people like to come because we individualize the treatment,” she continued. “It underscores the hospital’s commitment to the quality of care to our patients.”

Highlights of Women’s Services at GBMC:

• It is consistently ranked among the top hospitals in Central Maryland for births, and leads the Baltimore Metro Area for number of deliveries.

• GBMC has one of the more established doula programs in Maryland, including birth and postpartum doulas. Trained by both GBMC and a national accrediting organization, doulas act as complements to traditional medical care. They enhance the birth experience by advocating for the patient and offering various means of support, from childbirth education and breathing exercises to breastfeeding advice and infant safety tips.

• The medical center offers a multidisciplinary approach to pelvic floor disorders, a condition that afflicts nearly four out of 10 women ages 60 to 79 and nearly half of women age 80 or older. Pelvic floor disorders include bladder pain, urinary and fecal incontinence and pelvic organ prolapse. Treatment options range from physical therapy and medication to support devices and surgery.

• It is capable of delivering advanced treatments for women with cancer, including intra-operative radiation therapy (IORT), a procedure in which a breast lumpectomy is performed and an entire course of radiation is administered at the surgical site. For eligible early-stage breast cancer patients, this approach minimizes the side effects of radiation and the amount of recovery time needed.

• The American Association of Gynecologic Laparoscopists has designated GBMC as a Center of Excellence in Minimally Invasive Gynecology due to its quality outcomes. GBMC is also home to a Minimally Invasive Surgical Simulation Center, which opened in 2010 and serves to train today's laparoscopic surgeons on the latest robotic and minimally invasive techniques.

“The simulation center is unique to GBMC,” said Carol E. Ritter, M.D., GBMC’s Director of Women’s Minimally Invasive Surgery. “Not many hospitals, certainly not many community hospitals, have a simulation lab like this.” Minimally invasive laparoscopic surgery works through small incisions far from the target of operation by using video cameras and long, thin instruments. The video camera becomes the surgeon’s eyes as images are projected onto a monitor. “The advantage of smaller incisions is that you have less bleeding, less pain, less risk of infection and faster recovery times,” Ritter said. “With these improved clinical outcomes, you can return to your regular life more quickly.”

Other unique GBMC services include a Human Milk Bank capable of providing NICU babies who are younger than 30 weeks or weigh less than 1,250 grams with an exclusively human milk diet if the parents approve, even if the milk does not come from the biological mother. The Parent Education department offers extensive classes for expecting mothers, fathers and families ranging from infant CPR to proper car seat installation. The Boutique shop offers women suffering from alopecia or cancer a way to feel beautiful with a wide variety of wigs, scarves, hats and breast prostheses in addition to cosmetology services. And GBMC hosts a free women’s health lecture series called “Time for Me!” twice per year, which allows patients and members of the community to interact directly with physicians.

“Our whole staff is committed to providing the best women’s healthcare,” Ritter said. “It’s a family-like atmosphere and that's why I’ve stayed here my whole career.”

 

—David Ogul, Tribune Content Solutions Writer

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