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March 28, 2005
Program lets doctor make house calls for women's health
BY tia mccollors
Emory gynecologic oncologist Ira Horowitz is bringing answers to women’s most intimate health questions straight to their homes with his outreach education program, “From Our Home to Yours.”
Horowitz talks with women about female-specific health issues as well as gynecological cancers. As an oncologist, he covers such topics as ovarian, cervical, uterine and breast cancers, along with more general issues like menopause, sexually transmitted diseases, sexuality and hormone replacement.
“The best thing about this approach is that women are more uninhibited and feel free to ask questions that they may not ask their physician during an exam,” said Horowitz, Willaford Ransom Leach Professor of Gynecology and Obstetrics. “We usually schedule the event for an hour, but we always end up going two or three. Even though I come with pre-planned topics to discuss, the open format allows us to focus on health issues that are important to the women in that particular session.”
Atlanta resident Harriet Berger agrees. Berger hosted a “From Our Home to Yours” session in her home for about 30 busy professionals and a few lawyers—all women over 45.
“Dr. Horowitz has a good sense of humor, so he makes people comfortable instantly,” Berger said. “Once people started asking questions, everyone jumped in. Sometimes we got off on tangents that had little to do with oncology, but lots to do with female issues.”
The evening began with hors d’oeuvres before thewomen joined Horowitz in the family room, Berger said. “It was as warm and inviting for him as it was for the guests,” she said. “It was just a comfortable place to be.”
“The comfortable home setting is beneficial because the patient isn’t in a sterile environment like a clinic,” Horowitz said. “[This] really lets women discuss health in an open, supportive environment and have access to a gynecologist when he doesn’t have another patient waiting; the face-to-face time women get during an annual exam is 10–15 minutes, maximum. But [at these programs] I’m not on the clock or worried about seeing the next patient.”
Hormones are always a hot topic, Horowitz said. Other topics that get peak discussion time are ovarian cancer and changes in libido and sexuality associated with aging.
“Even though I’m a man, they look at me first as a physician and a resource. The conversations are candid, and we truly discuss everything,” Horowitz said. “These are women who go to gynecologists around the region, but they simply haven’t asked their physicians any of these questions. Our target audience is the community because all women can benefit. It’s truly an effort for community service and awareness, not a way to drum up patients.”
From Our House to Yours is sponsored by Emory Healthcare and the Winship Cancer Institute. Women interested in hosting an event in their home can contact Melissa Forster-Green at 404-778-2987 or firstname.lastname@example.org.