The Women's Health Urogynecology Center, an interdisciplinary community outreach project within the UNM School of Medicine's Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, recently received a national award for its unique efforts to help women across the state who suffer from urinary and anal incontinence.  Rebecca Rogers, M.D., director of the center, and her colleagues, received the Continence Care Champion Award, presented by the National Association for Continence (NAFC), during a joint scientific meeting of the American Urogynecologic Society and the Society of Gynecologic Surgeons. 

It's estimated that some 25 million adult Americans - including up to 42 percent of all menopausal womensuffer from some form of incontinence and related voiding dysfunction.  Incontinence is an embarrassing and debilitating condition that many women are reluctant to bring up with their physician particularly if they have anal incontinence, said Rogers.  

Risk factors include a history of childbirth, age and diabetes.  Typically, a woman may develop problems in her 40s, several years after her last childbirth.  While for some it may remain a mild inconvenience, the dysfunction can reach a point where incontinence can rule a woman's life.  She may avoid travel or going to places where she isn't sure about the availability of bathroom facilities because she has a need to void frequently. Many women will suffer from having their sleep disturbed throughout the night. 

"Continence is central to our dignity as human beings," said Rogers.  With the women's center, "We try to create a safe environment for patients to address these issues."

The Women's Health Urogynecology Center is a multidisciplinary center including urogynecologists, obstetricians, family practice physicians, nurse specialists, physical therapists, nurse midwives, interpreters and social workers.  The center has partnered with a number of community organizations around the state.  "We've concentrated on educating primary care providers throughout the state.  We've also worked with physical therapists, midwives and nurses," said Rogers.

In presenting the award to the clinic, NAFC Executive Director Nancy Muller said, "This facility takes limited resources like the famous biblical story of fishes and loaves and feeds the thousands.   It is in a poor state whose citizens face overwhelming health care access issues, yet it pushes the envelope, plotting new strategies for outreach and community education."

Muller also pointed out that the center caters to a large rural population that is 40 percent Hispanic and ten percent Native American, "two ethnicities often underserved in many cities across the nation" and yet the clinic's outreach even includes Navajo interpreters for women who travel far distances seeking treatment."

 "Women's Health Urogynecology Center is a tremendous model for a multidiscipline team approach, and through the organizational skills of Dr. Rogers, there are many accomplishments and the program is getting national recognition as good model to follow," said William Rayburn, M.D., chair of the UNM Obstetrics and Gynecology.  "There is a heightened awareness of a health issue more unique to women and very deserving of our recognition."


Contact: Cindy Foster, 272-3322