New gynecology division will expand primary care for women

Doctors will provide more options in a ‘patient-centered home’

alt textDrs. Shefali Pathy and Linda Fan stand outside the Yale-New Haven Primary Care Center, where they are working with a team to provide gynecology care for more women. 
Drs. Shefali Pathy and Linda Fan stand outside the Yale-New Haven Primary Care Center, where they are working with a team to provide gynecology care for more women.

The Department of Obstetrics, Gynecology and Reproductive Sciences has created a new division devoted specifically to gynecology. “We’re creating a single gynecology team that will provide a higher level of care for the women of New Haven who use Yale’s clinics,” said Department Chair Hugh S. Taylor, MD.

Since the division was established in June, a team of physicians has been increasing access to the clinic system within the Yale-New Haven Hospital (YNHH) Women’s Center—part of the hospital’s Primary Care Center. They plan to expand to Saint Raphael Campus of YNHH sites in New Haven and Shelton.

“Gynecologists are often the primary care physicians for women. By increasing the access to gynecological care in the many sites, we will expand primary care,” said Director Linda Fan, MD, a gynecological surgeon who has worked closely on the endeavor with Julia Shaw, MD, the medical director of the Women’s Center. She is hoping to see an influx of women seeking services once the Affordable Care Act takes effect.

Dr. Fan and her team are already providing screenings for breast cancer and sexually transmitted diseases, contraception counseling and pap smears; and addressing a broad range of complaints, such as abnormal uterine bleeding, fibroids and pelvic pain. They offer minimally invasive surgery, and can fluidly link women to specialized services such as incontinence and prolapse, and gynecologic cancer treatment.

In addition to Drs. Fan and Shaw, the team includes gynecological surgeons Shefali Pathy, MD; Sangini Sheth, MD; and Vrunda Desai, MD, all of whom will see patients in the clinic and provide consultation services for Yale-New Haven Hospital. “If a cardiologist needs a gynecological consult and the patient doesn’t have private insurance, they can call us,” Dr. Fan said.

The YNHH primary care system is dedicated to the concept of a “patient-centered home,” and Dr. Fan is hoping the division will help lead this initiative for women. “This is a patient population that may have less flexibility in their schedules,” she said. Many have difficulty keeping appointments, often because it’s not easy for them to get time away from work, or find child care or transportation. She expects the addition of staff to help coordinate their care, and strategies such as opening up a day of visits one week in advance will make it easier for patients to make arrangements.

“Many of these patients have not been getting routine screenings,” Dr. Fan said. As a result, many serious medical problems are diagnosed at a late stage, when it is more difficult to treat. “This is a big problem and I think our new approach is going to make an impact.”