College opens women's health center

by Laura Mannix | 11/8/93 6:00am

The Department of Women's Health at Dick's House opened this term with a new philosophy that has received good reviews from students.

Janice Sundnas, a nurse practitioner hired in August to run the department, said the new department allows Dick's House to offer women better care and "increase communication with other student services."

As department director, Sundnas sees women clinically everyday and is responsible for program planning and development.

The department only treats women and specializes in women's medicine. Sundnas said working in a sex-specific specialty "allows you, as a professional, to gear all your energies to one area," Sundnas said. "[The division] offers more continuity of care."

Fran Uptegrove, a physician's assistant who has worked at Dick's House for 10 years and works with the new department, said the doctors and nurses in the department "have an ongoing relationship with students."

Although performing annual exams is an important department function, most women who come in also receive personal attention.

"When [a patient] comes in, we do not focus on her reproductive parts," Sundnas said. "We ask her how she is doing."

Studies show the woman in a family typically chooses the family's health care provider. The department also tries to "enable women to leave the Dartmouth community a smarter consumer of health care," Sundnas said.

Dr. Jack Turco, who heads health services, said the idea of creating a department of women's services "evolved over 3 or 4 years."

Turco and Sundnas credited Phyllis Farrell, a former Dick's House nurse practitioner, and Uptegrove for creating the program.

Uptegrove said another reason for separating women's health services from the broader realm of the College's health group is because the nurses and doctors that serve women in Dick's House felt they were not being utilized by other student services.

Because no additional workers were hired to create the department, no extra expenditure was required.

Dick's House was understaffed last year, leading to some long waits for appointments. This year, students say appointments are easier to get, according to Uptegrove. But Turco said there has been no significant change in the number of women who look to Dick's House for their health needs.

"Even before the separation the number of women seen was very large," Turco said.

Sundnas said she received positive comments from students through BlitzMail.