Skip to content

Q&A: New women's-health facility will prove game-changer

VHC Health (Virginia Hospital Center) recently opened facility on its main Arlington campus

VHC Health (formerly Virginia Hospital Center) on Oct. 30 hosted a ribbon-cutting ceremony for its new Charlotte Stump Benjamin Center for Women’s Health, located on the fifth floor of the new Outpatient Pavilion on the hospital’s main campus in Arlington.

The facility totals 26,000 square feet solely dedicated to women’s health and provides convenient, accessible care options bundled for a seamless patient experience.

The GazetteLeader recently checked in with Dr. Kelly Orzechowski, chief of women’s-health services at VHC Health, and Sharon Brickhouse Martin, vice president of health-services integration at VHC Health, about the new facility.

Q: The center aims to provide a seamless patient experience. How is that different from past practice and what are the benefits to patients and medical professionals?

Dr. Kelly Orzechowski:  At VHC Health, we firmly believe that comprehensive, patient-centered care should be the rule, not the exception. Most health systems do not prioritize the patient experience in terms of accessibility and convenience. With the Charlotte Stump Benjamin Center for Women’s Health, we’re taking a huge step toward a more holistic approach to women’s healthcare.

Now, it is easier than ever for both our patients to coordinate their care in one convenient location and our physicians to collaborate and develop an integrated care plan for each patient, leading to better healthcare outcomes. Our goal is simple: we want to boost women’s overall well-being, make essential healthcare easy to access, and empower women to make informed decisions about their health.

We’re here to ensure that women get the specialized care and support they need to stay healthy throughout their lives.

Q: It’s noted that the new facility was developed by a female-led physician team. Did that result in some creative thinking that otherwise might not have transpired and, if so, how will patients benefit?

Dr. Kelly Orzechowski: The Charlotte Stump Benjamin Center for Women’s Health started with a conversation between a small group of female physicians who raised concerns regarding their female patients delaying care as well as their need to strategically re-organize in order to deliver that care.

A lot of women are health-care advocates for their loved ones, but they tend to put their own health on the back burner. It’s not that they don’t know about the importance of exams and screenings; it’s often obstacles like inconvenience and accessibility keep them from seeing a doctor and getting the care they need.

At VHC Health, we want to help women overcome these roadblocks and encourage them to prioritize their own well-being by offering all of the care a woman would need in one setting and working with patients on scheduling multiple appointments on the same day to facilitate that.

We are grateful for the incredible responsiveness of the VHC Health leaders, who prioritized this project and dedicated countless resources toward bettering women’s healthcare, and the generous support from our community. It really shows the incredible advantages of having a health system like VHC Health right here in our own community.

Sharon Brickhouse Martin: When I became a part of the VHC Health family, I was truly touched by the passion of our female physicians for championing women’s health. They had this fantastic vision of creating a dedicated cCenter to address the unique health needs of women – a center that would also ultimately benefit the entire community.

This Women’s Health Center is the result of countless hours of meetings, late-night discussions and a shared dedication to empowering and safeguarding the women in our community. Every step of this journey has been marked by attention to detail, professional excellence and sheer perseverance.

Q: Could you describe some major advances in women’s-health matters in recent years, and what might the future bring?

Dr. Kelly Orzechowski: When you hear “women’s health center,” many people think about obstetrics and gynecologic care, like annual exams, and pregnancy. And don’t get me wrong, that’s a significant part of what we do here. But it’s not the whole picture.

Because women have biologic differences that affect their health needs, women’s health services are vital to address the unique health needs and challenges that women face throughout their lives – beyond childbirth.

One advancement I’m incredibly proud of is VHC Health’s new mammography and MRI technology in women’s imaging, located on the first floor of the Outpatient Pavilion. These new technologies not only increase comfort for the patient but also increase accuracy in the scans. What was once a dreaded annual exam for women is now a much more comfortable and calming experience.

As for the future, while women are half the world’s population, only 1 percent of healthcare research spending goes toward female-specific conditions not related to cancer. Women are not small men; our needs are unique and I hope the future brings more dedicated resources for research on women’s health.

Q: Advances in health care for everyone, women included, have been significant in recent years and continue to accelerate. How are health organizations working to balance access to care with the financial costs involved (to patients, insurers, the government, etc.)?

Sharon Brickhouse Martin: VHC Health is proud of its not-for-profit mission to provide caring healthcare services to patients 24 hours a day seven days a week regardless of their ability to pay, doing so in an equitable manner and treating them with dignity, respect and compassion.

At VHC Health, price transparency is a top priority, so that our patients know the out-of-pocket cost for any treatments they are hoping to receive. Cost transparency is more than the right thing to do – it gives patients the full information they need to act on any health concerns they may have.

We believe that billing quality is part of healthcare quality and VHC Health strives to ensure our process for billing patients adheres to the highest ethical standards.

We are honored to be recognized for our ethical billing practices by Money magazine and The Leapfrog Group as a best hospital for billing ethics. VHC Health was also deemed fully compliant with the federal Hospital Price Transparency Rule by Patient Rights Advocates in its Fourth Semi-Annual Hospital Price Transparency Report.