October 31, 2008

El Camino Hospital Launches First Women’s Hospital in Northern California

With its free-standing, three-story maternal child health pavilion as its centerpiece, El Camino Hospital has announced that it is establishing the first Women's Hospital in Northern California. The Women's Hospital encompasses not only El Camino Hospital's prenatal, maternity and neonatal services, but also a comprehensive range of clinical services focused on the health needs of women throughout their lifetimes.

"In the best tradition--and reflecting the best practices--of women's hospitals worldwide, we are creating both a hospital and a service line designed and staffed to meet the unique needs and preferences of women," said Ken Graham, El Camino Hospital CEO. "Women, who represent 65% of patients who receive care at El Camino Hospital, have specialized health needs that extend well beyond maternity and related services--the focus of most hospital programs for women. We believe that better tailoring their lifelong care and the environment in which it is delivered will lead to even better outcomes and improved patient experiences."

The hospital is already considered a leader in women's services. It is the only one in Northern California to receive HealthGrades' Women's Health Excellence Award three years in a row, and the only one in the region to be 5-star rated for Women's Health Services. More than 4,000 babies are born each year in its birthing center which independent marketing studies say is preferred for maternity services by a factor of nearly three to one over other facilities. The hospital offers a postpartum depression program, which offers culturally sensitive resources that can't be found anywhere else in Northern California. In addition, for the second year, the hospital was ranked first in California for the percentage of women who begin breastfeeding after birth (97%).

"We have devoted tremendous resources to our Women's Hospital, including establishing a senior management group to oversee its programs and develop new ones," said Graham. Our Medical Advisory Board and a Community Advisory Board will guide us as we deliver services now and plan for future programs and services. We are committed to making this one of the premier women's hospitals, not just in California, but also the United States."

First steps are to have a Women's Hospital administrative director in place by the end of the year. The current maternal child health pavilion will be updated and remodeled in the next few months. Potential expansion plans include adding 50 inpatient beds in the next five to 10 years. Hope to Health (H2H), a women's philanthropy group of the El Camino Hospital Foundation, will take a key role in fundraising for the new Women's Hospital.

A major goal of the Women's Hospital is to foster collaboration and coordination of services among women's health providers. This will be enhanced by the use of computerized health information technology such as (1) the hospital's new Picture Archiving and Communication System (PACS) which allows doctors to access and share diagnostic information from their homes or offices; (2) wireless communication systems which allow instant voice communication through the hospital; and (3) the hospital's goal to install electronic medical records in all community physicians offices by 2011. El Camino Hospital, a pioneer in the use of health information technology, has consistently been named one of the country's 100 Most Wired Hospitals.

"Many women's hospitals focus primarily on birthing services," said Sari Levine, MD, urologist and chair of the Women's Hospital Medical Advisory Board. "However, women have diverse health needs and typically seek medical care throughout their lifetimes for such issues as osteoporosis, breast health, heart disease, gastrointestinal and urologic problems and cosmetic and aesthetic surgery. What we have at El Camino Hospital in these areas is already extraordinarily comprehensive," she said. "Why we're so excited about the Women's Hospital concept and delivery model is that women health care consumers will be able to experience an easily accessible and coordinated approach to these services, whether they need services for themselves, their teen-age daughters, sisters, mothers, grandmothers or friends."

Rita Leard, MD, ob/gyn specialist and member of the Women's Hospital Medical Advisory Board, agreed. "In my experience, I have seen that women, regardless of their career status, overwhelmingly assume the biggest share of responsibilities for caregiving within their families. I fully support the hospital's initiative in establishing this comprehensive center of care for women. When we support women in this way, we also are helping to ensure the health of the broader community."