The Katz Institute for Women's Health
By Karen and Erica
Have you ever been told by your doctor that medical issues present differently in women and men, and often women are misdiagnosed? Did you know, for example, that men who are over the age of 40 and at risk for a heart attack might benefit from an aspirin a day but if women take the same aspirin before they are 60 they can suffer serious consequences, including bleeding in the brain? That the "typical" symptoms of heart attack often do not present in women? That every cell in your body is defined in part by your sex, as is every organ? Did you know that most clinical trials are conducted on male mice? Odd, right? Or maybe not.
We didn’t appreciate how much gender mattered from a health perspective until we recently visited The Katz Institute for Women’s Health, part of Northwell Health, the largest health system in New York. The Katz Institute was established with a gift from Iris and Saul Katz, major donors and long-standing volunteer leaders of Northwell. Under the leadership of Michael Dowling, President and CEO of Northwell, and Dr. Stacey Rosen, Vice President of Women’s Health and a cardiologist, the Katz Institute works to improve the health of women across their lifespan. The Institute focuses on three things: Better Care--clinical programs that address the unique health care needs of women; Kinder Partnerships--navigation that makes complex medical care simpler for women and their families; and Smarter Choices--education that empowers women with the knowledge to make informed decisions about their health and wellness.
We talked about how important it is that women understand better and take control of their special health issues and needs. The Institute uses community outreach to provide easily accessible training and education available right next door, and on the internet. It publishes a "Passport" to women's health that provides a guide to changes that occur with each stage of life. The Institute believes it is critical that women engage and assist in their own prevention, detection and treatment. We feel the same way--we grew up in the era of Our Bodies, Ourselves. But we haven’t always acted on what we learned then. Time to reacquaint ourselves with those bodies, and the information provide by the Institute.
If a woman does need to be in the hospital, either for the joyful event of childbirth or for less joyful events, little things matter. During our visit, we had the opportunity to tour the Katz Women’s Hospital at LIJ Medical Center. The hospital is elegant, friendly, and peaceful, thanks to Skidmore Owings and Iris Katz. Green, serene outdoor spaces. Art on the walls. Soft carpet for quiet. Lovely birthing rooms that hide scary looking equipment behind beautiful wood walls. Mothers and babies together from birth to discharge.
We love that women are getting this focused attention from the dedicated people who work at the Institute, from the leaders to the nursing staff to the transportation personnel. Northwell Health, and specifically the Katz Institute, are inspiring. There are many things about healthcare in this country that need to be fixed. But there are many things that are brilliant and progressive, too. At Northwell and The Katz Institute for Women’s Health we saw how academics and scientists working with clinicians could bring about progress--for women, at every stage of life, and for their families. We hope this strategic approach, and its focus on women, will be contagious.
Indeed, we were so impressed that we have decided to post periodic updates on health matters of interest to women, especially of our vintage. We hope to team with The Katz Institute. Watch Lustre for our new Wellness column. And send us your own stories about cutting edge health providers who have used new thinking, and new data, to make your lives better. The more we all know the more we can live well.