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Complete Patient Care? That’s Her Baby!

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OWENSBORO For many women, a trip to the OB/GYN is much more than a visit to a specialist. For many, it is the only medical appointment they will keep all year. For some, it is an opportunity to discuss issues specific to women, medical or otherwise.

“I feel we are their primary care physician,” says Suzanne Rashidian, DO, of One Health Obstetrics and Gynecology, part of Owensboro Health. “Patients often connect with me because they know I’m a working mother, I’m married, and I have three children. They can talk to me because they know I understand. Sometimes we don’t talk about obstetrics or gynecology. Instead, we might be talking about sleep, fatigue, stress, and the things that a woman does daily to maintain a household and a family. That’s why I love my job.”

It’s a job that Rashidian has been doing for three years. A native of nearby Henderson, Ky., Rashidian joined Owensboro Health after attending the University of Pikeville’s College of Osteopathic Medicine and completing her residency at Botsford Hospital in Farmington Hills, Mich.

She’s in a practice with five other physicians – Maria Smith, MD, FACOG; Chris Toler, MD, FACOG; Eric Griffin, MD, FACOG; and Amy Willcox, DO. Together they specialize in a wide range of women’s healthcare, including routine prenatal care, annual screening, diagnostic screening, minimally invasive surgeries, weight loss, and overall women’s health.

The practice also includes a nurse practitioner who brings an added level of patient care unique to most obstetric and gynecological clinics. Many practices have an OB/GYN-trained nurse practitioner, but Owensboro Health’s nurse practitioner Emily Clark, APRN, is a broader-based family practice nurse practitioner.

Rashidian is enthused about the extra level of care that a family practice nurse practitioner brings. “Often a patient has conditions such as hypertension, thyroid disease, diabetes or high cholesterol. We are able to coordinate care in the same practice, which allows for better communication, and a better treatment plan and follow through due to everyone being in the same place.”

Rashidian takes pride in relating to her patients and understands the trust they place in her, especially when it comes to dealing with pregnancies. “Having a child is a magnificent miracle and being allowed to be part of it is amazing,” she says. “I also enjoy assisting women in being healthy and aware of their gynecology.”

Communicating and Selecting Options

Rashidian stresses that her patients are aware of their options when it comes to procedures. She is trained in robotic surgery and is quick to point out the overall benefits to the patient. While some may be critical of the higher costs of robotic procedures, Rashidian weighs the overall costs, both financially and physically.

“It is more expensive to operate robotically, but you have to think of the patient,” Rashidian says. “Most people return to work after robotic surgery in 10 days compared to an abdominal hysterectomy with a total recovery time of six to eight weeks. A hospital stay for a robotic surgery is an outpatient procedure. Patients can go home the same day versus a three-day hospital stay. A typical robotic surgery is an hour, so the operation room time is shorter using the robotic. Safety, operative time, blood loss, and recovery time are all things that make the benefits outweigh the cost.”

Rashidian and her partners use the robot for a variety of procedures, including hysterectomies, ablative surgeries for endometriosis, extensive adhesive disease secondary to surgeries, ovarian cystectomies, difficult pelvic organ prolapse surgeries, and leiomyomatas.

“Morcellation still is done,” Rashidian adds, “but there’s concern now that morcellating a uterus could potentially spread cancer. Now, a new procedure is being developed that would allow us to morcellate inside a surgical bag.”

Hysterectomies are the biggest areas of impact for robotic surgery. “The gold standard used to be – and still is – a vaginal hysterectomy,” Rashidian says. “That is being debated now in terms of how the procedure is done. Where the ligaments are excised during the procedure can lead to subsequent pelvic organ prolapse. Minimally invasive procedures assist in diminishing those side effects.”

While she sees the benefits of robotic surgery for many patients, Rashidian notes that it is not the best solution for every patient, and she and her partners are able to perform a full range of hysterectomies. It’s a matter of evaluating each patient’s needs, conditions, and expected outcomes and determining the optimal course of action.

For instance, a patient with suspected ovarian cancer is often best served with an open procedure. Or in the case of a morbidly obese patient, a robot might not be the best procedure due to anesthesia side effects and positioning.

“Our practice excels in quality care, communication with the patient, and the minimally invasive program,” Rashidian says. “We try to take each patient individually and focus on their issue.

“I am most interested in allowing people to take advantage of what they have control over, and that is their health,” she concludes.