If you are a resident of quiet Winter Haven with its small town charm or if you live in nearby east Polk and Highlands counties, or along the U.S. Highway 27/Ridge Corridor, then you more than likely know about the excellent health services provided by Winter Haven Hospital.
Maybe you didn’t know, however, that in the 2012 edition of U.S. News and World Report’s Best Hospitals, patient satisfaction surveys revealed that 73% of all Winter Haven Hospital patients would definitely recommend the hospital (plus affiliated facilities like the Cassidy Cancer Center, Bostick Heart Center, Robotics Institute and Center for Urology, Stroke Center, the Joy-Fuller Rehab Center and the Regency Center for Women and Infants) to their friends and family. Compare that number to only 68% on the state average and 70% on a national average of patients who would recommend a hospital’s service and level of care to others and you have good reason to be excited about your healthcare options if you live in this midsection of Florida.
Established in 1926, Winter Haven Hospital is clearly doing something right when it comes to delivering competent high quality, compassionate services to community members who have choices about who to turn to for healthcare.
New physicians interviewed who have recently joined Winter Haven Hospital’s various specialties seem to share the same story. Each was impressed with the not-for-profit hospital’s genuine concern about patient care. Many stated that they chose to join Winter Haven Hospital because there was no pressure for doctors to see a quota of patients during a given period, which gave them the freedom to spend the necessary amount of time with each patient to address all questions, assess the available options of treatment and outcomes, to properly educate patients and reach the end goal – to earn a patient’s trust that their health was sincerely the utmost concern of their doctor.
Winter Haven Hospital has worked hard to earn that reputation. It is evident not only in patient reporting but through recognition the hospital has received for excellence. As an extension of University of Florida College of Medicine/Shands Healthcare, Winter Haven Hospital was recognized in 2008 by the American Nurses Credentialing Center with the prestigious designation of Magnet status granted to only 5% of the nation’s hospitals. The Bostick Heart Center was also recognized by the Society of Thoracic Surgeons as being among the top 10 percent of heart programs in the United States and was ranked highest as one of the country’s top 50 heart centers by Consumer Reports in 2010. From more than seven family health centers positioned to serve the needs of Polk County communities to specialized, cutting edge care, Winter Haven Hospital has gained the confidence of central Florida for over eighty five years.
Targeting Women’s Health: Regency Center for Women and Infants
The award winning Regency Center for Women and Infants is a centerpiece of excellence for Winter Haven Hospital. Completed in 1987, this 61 bed campus separate from the main hospital, provides a full range of women’s health services from women’s basic health exams, prenatal care through the birthing experience to post birth classes to help make the transition home smoother for mom, baby and family members. A spectrum of services is available for women at the Regency Center, including GYN care for the older woman who may be experiencing menopause or depression as well.
The Regency is the recipient of the Premier Award for Quality in the area of Maternal and Neonatal Care. Winners are chosen from over 40 hospitals for quality of care as well as operational efficiency. The award, a gold Q in the shape of a stethoscope, is encased in the Regency Center lobby as a permanent reminder to physicians, staff and patients alike that the commitment to excellence for women and infant health is ever present at the Regency Center.
Although the main focus is state-of-the-art maternity and surgical care, the Regency Center provides wellness promotion resources to the community through the Regency’s book and video library. The informative quarterly Women’s Health Horizon newsletter is free and filled with articles on the latest research and health tips written with women of all ages as well as infant’s health in mind. Community education classes are also available for new parents, grandparents and even siblings who can learn more about what to expect when a new brother or sister comes home. There’s even the free First Impressions Maternity Club designed for both moms and dads preparing for childbirth and those months to follow at home.
For new moms, prenatal care is one of the most important steps that can be taken to ensure a healthy pregnancy, fewer birth complications and a healthy baby.
The Regency Center makes prenatal care a priority for every mom and offers community education programs free or at little cost. Prenatal care emphasizes regular checkups for mom, eating well for two and instruction on taking prenatal vitamins, the importance of abstinence from drugs, alcohol and tobacco during pregnancy and general instruction on healthy lifestyle choices. “Prenatal care is what helps lower birth defects and decreases infant mortality. We believe that it is crucial that all women have access to prenatal care,” stated Susie Hart, Director of Women’s Services. According to the Lakeland Ledger in August, 2012, infant mortality dropped to historic lows in 2011 in Florida overall and Polk County in particular. However, for minority populations, infant mortality throughout the state increased. The question was raised about disparities in access to and quality of healthcare during pregnancy.
Winter Haven Hospital believes that prenatal care is so crucial to new life that the Regency Center opened a Prenatal Care Center in August 2012 on the ground floor of the hospital. Now, women who are covered on Medicaid HMO plans have the option to be seen by Regency based obstetricians for prenatal exams, monitoring and delivery when their babies are due. Hart said that even though private Winter Haven physicians who delivered at the Regency Center didn’t take Medicaid HMO’s in many cases, “it was a service that we needed to provide.” In some cases, women would come to the Regency Center just to deliver and there was no continuity of care; midwives and OBGYN hospitalists had no knowledge of a mother’s previous pregnancy exams or health status. “This just made sense and the clinic has been very well received. Even though there has been only word of mouth advertising so far, doctors are seeing twelve to fifteen appointments per day for new Medicaid HMO patients. Over 135 women have received prenatal care through this new Medicaid HMO program,” Hart concluded.
Although an array of classes, community education, health screenings, GYN and other medical services are provided here, the best birthing experience for mom and baby are at the heart of the Regency Center for Women and Infants. A pre-registered, pre-paid option is The Special Delivery program, an “extra bit of pampering” for mom. This package guarantees a private room stocked with luxury goodies that make the hospital stay more memorable. Included are a robe, socks and slippers, basket of goodies like bottled water and drinks, spa toiletries, fruit, cookies, a Special Delivery teddy bear, restaurant gift card and a treasured 8X10 first family portrait.
When planning the birth process, many options are available at the Regency Center. A level II Neonatal intensive care unit, mothers who deliver at the Regency Center can be assured that the facility offers state-of-the-art equipment and surgical suites if needed and doctors specializing in the care of high risk babies are available on site 24 hours a day, seven days a week. All mothers are assessed for post partum depression before leaving the Regency Center and if screening reveals signs of depression, a social worker and a psychologist will spend time with a mother before she is released with follow up visits available. Susie Hart says that “typically post partum depression can be treated so that it goes away easily. It is a process that involves behavioral health changes and understanding how pregnancy transforms a woman’s body and hormones goes during and after pregnancy.” With support groups, classes before and after baby arrives, and the highly trained Regency Center staff and educators, birth can be the best kind of experience at the Regency Center.
Treating Women’s Health Issues With Cutting Edge Technology
Winter Haven Hospital’s Cassidy Cancer Center’s Dr. Daniela Shapiro is a big believer in regular breast cancer screenings and early detection. “My sister was diagnosed at the age of 31 with breast cancer. Fortunately, it was caught early and she was cured with treatment. For me, it really hits home when statistics show that almost 40,000 women in the United States will die this year from breast cancer,” Dr. Shapiro said. “With the range of treatments that we have, breast cancer is a very curable disease – if you catch it early on.” She states that breast cancer can be caused by a number of factors, family history and genetics, obesity, deficiency of Vitamin D are a few known causes. Her recommendation includes weight loss, exercise a healthy diet and regular self breast checks and mammograms. If a test does come back positive for breast cancer, Shapiro is confident that the best treatment possible is available through Winter Haven Hospital. “The Cassidy Cancer Center is a new facility that offers the most remarkable technology. Because we are affiliated with the University of Florida College of Medicine, Division of Hematology/Oncology, we can offer state-of-the-art therapies and clinical trials to patients. Cancer treatments are tailored to the individual. With chemotherapy, we know what the potential side effects are and how to treat them. In advance of therapy, we pre-treat to eliminate as many problems as possible. There are many targeted therapies available now and the chances for a full remission are much greater. But the key is early detection,” she states.
Last October, Shapiro offered free breast cancer screenings for women in the community every Tuesday of the month and low-cost mammograms for women ages 40 to 64 at the Regency Center. “We offered those screenings to recognize Breast Cancer Awareness Month. 60 women attended from a notice in the local paper. We were able to detect ten abnormal exams with 3 diagnosed breast cancers. This is an event that we will repeat again this year,” Shapiro said.
Women also have other high tech options for gynecological surgeries through Winter Haven Hospitals Robotics Institute and Center for Urology, also affiliated with the University of Florida, College of Medicine, Department of Urology. Dr. Matthew Oommen, who recently joined the team of surgeons at the Robotics Institute, explains that sometimes female pelvic reconstructive surgery may be a necessary option to stop prolapsed problems associated with incontinence. “These problems can result from a variety of causes such as genetics or child birth. Pelvic reconstruction surgery can correct incontinence and now robotics is another type of surgery that may work better than regular surgery for that procedure. Robotics is minimally invasive and is another tool available when the results from routine surgery may not be as effective. We will get a patient referral first from the patient’s physician. A thorough treatment is developed before decisions are made about which surgical approach would be most effective. Each patient and each circumstance is different,” Oommen stated.
Family Health Centers Protects Women’s Health Over A Lifespan
Winter Haven Hospital serves Winter Haven and the surrounding Polk County communities of Bartow, Dundee, Haines City, Lake Wales, and Auburndale with seven conveniently located family health centers.
National Women’s Health Week is May 12-18. This year’s theme is “It’s Your Time,” and is a good time for women to remember to take time for their own health needs. So many times physicians discover that women put their own well checkups, pap smears, mammograms and other health needs last, after other family members.
Jackson also recommends a baseline mammogram for all women at age 35 to 40 years old. She also sends a message to women that regular thyroid checkups are important to health too. “Thyroid problems in women are rising and often thyroid problems go undiagnosed or mis-diagnosed. If you listen to patients long enough, they will tell you about their problems. That is something about the Family Centers that I love. You have the time you need to spend with each patient.” She left the Clermont/Central Florida area to work in the Winter Haven Hospital system because she quickly learned that patients do come first and she could work with each patient to get the information necessary to make an informed decision about testing or other treatment options.
Dr. Jackson likes to keep it simple and will recommend herbals in some cases. She also promotes the ability for a patient to help themselves in the healing process as much as they can. Before she prescribes a medication, further testing or another procedure, Dr. Jackson involves the patient in her own care. She will refer to a specialist if needed, but she likes a holistic approach when possible. “I will use a holistic approach as much as possible. At our family health centers, we don’t see drug reps. We don’t accept drug samples. We want to help our patients help themselves first.”
When it comes to good health practices, women have the best of all options in the Winter Haven Hospital system. For more information on women’s services at Winter Haven Hospital, call 863-294-7020.
By Cherie Faircloth