Screening program offers women comprehensive wellness evaluations

by Sarah Gilbert

Corey Guess

The Presbyterian Hospital Women’s Center aims to help women live healthier lives.

The award-winning Women’s Health by Design program combines a series of preventative health screenings with a personalized nutrition and fitness evaluation to give each patient a view of their overall wellness.

The appointments, which last two hours, offer blood glucose, cholesterol, bone density, vision, skin cancer and body mass index screenings, along with a nutrition and exercise assessment and guidance on additional women’s screenings that might benefit the patient.

Corey Guess, the nurse practitioner who runs the program, compiles all of the information from the screenings and uses it to give each patient an individualized look at her overall wellness.

“The program is about prevention and wellness,” Guess said.  “One thing we know about diseases is that they are much easier to treat if we catch them earlier, before they have had time to develop and spread.  The goal of the program is to help people live the best lives they can and be as well as they can be.”

The program’s screenings help give the patient an overall look at their current wellbeing, and Guess uses the results to recommend healthy changes in diet, exercise and lifestyle.

“We want to educate people about their risk factors and help them make changes that can prevent future problems,” Guess said.

While Guess and staff members at Presbyterian have discussed expanding the program and offering a similar service to male patients, Guess believes that focusing on female patients is important because the need is greatest among women.

“We have identified that women tend to be caretakers,” Guess said.  “I see a lot of mothers who have spent their lives taking care of their husband and children, doing volunteer work, being involved with their churches and doing so many wonderful things, but they tend to put everyone in their lives before themselves and ignore their own needs.”

For most women, the opportunity to sit down with a medical professional for two full hours and discuss a host of factors contributing to their overall wellness doesn’t come around very often.

“A lot of times, the patients I see haven’t had time to sit down and talk about their concerns,” Guess said.  “They’re busy and only have the time to go to the doctor once a problem arises.  This way, they can address everything in one appointment and possibly prevent a problem from occurring.”

The survey data Presbyterian collects from patients indicates that, for most women, the best part of the program is the individual attention, Guess said.

“The one-on-one attention is important for women who have become disenchanted with healthcare because they go and see doctors who don’t have a lot of time to spend with each patient,” Guess said.  “That personal attention is one of the great things about the program, and people really seem to appreciate it.”

Guess provides each patient with goals and recommendations for improving their wellness, and any necessary referrals for follow-up care or additional screenings.

Participating in the program costs $225, which includes the screenings and analysis, a customized notebook detailing the results and recommendations and a light breakfast.

Medicare and insurance do not typically cover the cost of attending the program, but patients can request a receipt to submit to their account managers to use money from their Healthcare Spending Account.  If a problem is identified and additional tests are needed, insurance will generally cover the cost of the procedures.

Guess runs the Women’s Health by Design program at the Presbyterian Novant Heart and Wellness center, located at 125 Baldwin Ave.  Guess also sees patients in Ballantyne and hopes to eventually expand the program to include a Cornelius location.

In May 2009, the program earned a national award for innovation in women’s health from the Snowmass Institute, a national women’s health organization.

The institute presented the awards to recognize two programs for offering new and original services that work toward helping women live longer, healthier lives.

“Our program gives patients an individualized look at their risk factors and overall wellness,” Guess said. “That one-on-one attention is what makes the program stand out to people.”

To learn more or sign up for a screening, call 704-384-4966 or go online to presbyterian.org/site/our_services/womens_services/womens_health_by_design/.

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