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Spirit of Women off to a good start

Cathy Brown, coordinator for the Spirit of Women program at Freeman Health System, is all smiles at the first Girls Night Out program in the Freeman Business Center. More than 250 women attended the program, which featured a variety of free health screenings, shopping, make-up and hair demonstrations, and massage therapy.  Don Wilkinson/JBJ

JOPLIN. MO. — Area women gathered for an evening of health awareness and fun as Freeman Health System held its first Spirit of Women's event "Freeman Spirit Girls' Night Out," Oct. 23 at the Freeman Business Center near 32nd Street and McClelland.

"We are ecstatic with the turnout," said Cathy Brown, coordinator for the Spirit of Women program for Freeman Health System that was launched in mid-September.

"We have over 250 women that are attending and have had five or six sign up for their mammogram, which is awesome. They are ones that may not have had that done before," Brown said. By the end of the program, 25 women had scheduled their annual mammograms and 10 of those were ones who would not have done so otherwise.

"We have a lot of women having their health screenings and they are having fun," Brown said. Health screens included non-invasive procedures for bone density, blood pressure, nutrition, and BMI. There were lectures provided on breast cancer awareness, cardiometabolic syndrome, diabetes, bone and joint health.

In addition, a special bra-fitting booth was provided for post-mastectomy women, those needing advice about better breast support devices, or those looking to improve their personal appearance. "In addition, throughout the evening, we had chair and foot massages, mini-manicures, make-up and hair demonstrations. Women are having a lot of fun but they are also getting information to help with their health," Brown said.

The goal of the program is to get women to take proactive action for their health, whether it’s to schedule an annual mammogram or simply consulting with their doctor about a possible medical problem.

Brown said that the feedback for the first program was most encouraging and sets the stage for the next event that would in the Women's Center after it opens in mid-November.

"Wonderful feedback. Everybody is enjoying themselves and the screenings have been busy all night. We had one women that was in the first session on cancer awareness who came out right afterwards to sign up for her mammogram."

In addition to the health screenings and other amenities of the evening, women attending the first Spirit of Women event had an opportunity to get a sneek-peek at the products offered by The Pink Door Boutique, a women's specialty store planned for inside the new Freeman's Women's Center.  Don Wilkinson/JBJ

The next women's day out, "Sharing Secrets, Solving Problems," will be Dec. 8 in the new women's center. "It will be a presentation on pelvic health and Dr. Chris Roberts will be presenting that program and we will be doing a "Below the Belt" fashion show."

The next major event, "The Day of Dance," is scheduled for Fed. 28, 2009 in Northpark Mall, and is a program geared towards women's cardiovascular health.

Debi Koelkebeck, vice president of retail sales/clinical operations at Freeman Health Systems, said that as they looked to what they needed for women's health and women's health services, they went out nationwide to see what could be brought to Joplin.

"We found the Spirit of Women, which is a national hospital network, and they had the kind of services that best fit our market area." The program is designed to encourage women of all ages to become engaged actively in their health care through participation in health events that provide them with programs that promote preventive care and support.

Koelkebeck said that inside work at the Women's Center is nearly completed including the installation of new, state-of-the-art digital mammography equipment. Once the new technology is in place, technicians can begin orientation and training. The new equipment eliminates the need to process X-ray film, produces far less radiation exposure to the patient, and results can be obtained in a matter of seconds. The timeliness of the results reduces the likelihood of additional exposures.

One of the goals for the new Women's Center, which is scheduled to open Nov. 17, was the consolidation of women's services from other areas of the hospital. Koelkebeck indicated that existing services in Freeman East campus would move into the new center. Physicians and staff that had offices scattered between both campuses will move into new office space at the center.

The center will contain the necessary prosthetic services for post-mastectomy patients. "We have a certified mastectomy fitter that will be there to work with the patients in a private and comfortable setting. They may come in right after surgery or any time afterwards," Koelkebeck said. One of the areas that the staff worked on was to provide women with an atmosphere that provided absolute privacy and inviting surroundings.

In addition to the relocation of services, the Women's Center will have a brand new feature,  "The Pink Door Boutique," which is a store specializing in women's products. "Now our patients can go right to the store to make purchases of gifts and other items, or take their physicians prescriptions and get the what they need without having to go somewhere else or have to buy it on line."

Not to be excluded, Koelkebeck said that part of the message of Spirit of Women is to encourage males to become members. "We want the men, whether they are husbands or boyfriends, to take an active part in understanding and participating in the health and wellness of their partner and their family."

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