Meeting Women's Health Needs Gateway Center To Focus On Those 'Too Busy' To Go To The Doctor

November 14, 1990|By Anne Haddad | Anne Haddad,Staff writer

WESTMINSTER - Working women too busy to fit in a doctor's appointment soon will be able to devote one weekend a year at Gateway Medical Center to their physical and emotional health.

"We're going to make you want to come to the doctor," said Dr. M.

Susan Bollinger, 50, who had practiced in Carroll for 15 years as a respiratory specialist and family doctor until October, when she formed Gateway Medical Center with Dr. Philip J. Ruzbarsky, 31.

Her new venture, at Gateway West off Route 97, eventually will combine family care -- Ruzbarsky's specialty -- with programs designed for comprehensive women's health and a day care center for sick babies.

"I started thinking about women's special needs," Bollinger said, "I think it was in the course of conversations with friends. Nobody was taking care of themselves because they were busy taking care of everyone else."

She said women often complained to her about a lack of empathy from doctors about premenstrual syndrome, post-menopause problems and other disorders.

"That's the sort of thing that annoys the daylights out of women," she said.

The center, Bollinger said, will focus on important women's health issues, such as fighting osteoporosis by encouraging teens to adopt healthier diets and urging seniors to exercise.

She said her holistic approach will help women look at their total physical, emotional and mental health. In addition to offering traditional medical care, she plans to form a referral network that will run the gamut from acupuncture and massage therapy to pools with open swimming hours for bone-building exercise.

"If patients need spiritual counseling, pastoral counseling or a psychotherapist, I can arrange that," Bollinger said.

She also can refer women to addiction treatment programs or hook them into a national clearinghouse of support groups for anything from kleptomania to compulsive gambling.

Bollinger has plotted a typical health weekend for a woman: Friday afternoon or evening, the woman would consult with Bollinger about her health needs and concerns. Saturday morning would begin early with a complete physical exam, a mammogram to detect breast cancer or other appropriate screenings.

By noon, the woman would be free to pursue other interests in the area, with a handbook Bollinger hopes to put together with restaurants, businesses and colleges. Sunday morning, when the blood tests and other lab work are completed, Bollinger would meet with the woman again to talk about any specific health problems, or changes that can make the woman healthier and happier, she said.

Bollinger said she would have signed up for a similar program if someone else had started it first.

Bollinger plans to market the women's health center in national professional journals. She said women could combine the health weekend with recreational activities in the region such as golf, horseback riding and sightseeing. Patients would stay in area hotels or inns.

She said the cost for such a weekend probably would be several hundred dollars, with insurance likely to pay for the medical care.

Ruzbarsky and Bollinger had practiced together at Med-Care's walk-in clinic in Westminster until resigning last month, and are now working in offices at Washington Heights Medical Center until the Gateway building is completed, sometime before the end of the year.

They said that while they like the concept behind Med-Care to provide easy access to health care, they became frustrated with having no say in the clinic's administrative decisions.

Also joining them is Med-Care's former executive vice president, Deborah Leib, 31, who will manage Gateway Medical. Shahida Siddiqi and two other former Med-Care doctors -- Elizabeth Pallan and Gustavo Gonzalez -- will serve as part-time physicians for the walk-in clinic.

Union National Bank has approved a loan for up to $265,000 to start the clinic, Bollinger said.

Bollinger attended medical school at the University of Maryland, and trained in pulmonary medicine at the Johns Hopkins University.

Ruzbarsky graduated from Jefferson Medical College in Philadelphia and trained at Greater Baltimore Medical Center and Hopkins before coming to Med-Care in 1987.

Both will work in the walk-in clinic, and Bollinger will practice her specialty in respiratory medicine.

She said they are committed to providing care convenient to patients, even on Sundays.

"No matter how much we see ourselves as professionals, we are providers of a service," Bollinger said.

The day care center for sick infants, though it probably won't open until early 1992, will help parents who can't stay home from work each time their children catch a cold, Bollinger said.

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