The Lovelace Medical Group Women’s Health Center opened on Wednesday, next to the Lovelace Women’s Hospital. Several new physicians and midwives had appointments with patients starting the next morning.
The opening ceremonies started at 10:00 a.m. on the third floor of the east wing.
Visitors can find the hospital and this new facility on Montgomery Boulevard Northeast, just east of Jefferson Street Northeast.
The Mid-Heights Messenger spoke with Janelle Raborn, Chief Operating Officer of the hospital, before the event.
Raborn said she sees the state’s Medicaid expansion next year as an opportunity. The hospital will encourage patients to cut their emergency room visits and to start regular visits to primary care physicians.
Raborn said it amazes her how people across the state travel for health care. “If you have a high-risk baby, for example, the only place to deliver that high-risk baby is in Albuquerque, either at UNM, Presbyterian, or Lovelace.”
Ron Stern, President and CEO of Lovelace Health System, spoke first during the ribbon-cutting event. The new center will “provide quality services in Albuquerque that are unique in the city and unique in the state.”
“There’s nothing in my mind more special than the birthing of a child,” Stern said.
Stern said Lovelace will open a similar obstetrical office on the West Side in a few weeks.
David Vandewater, President and CEO of Ardent Health Services, described a ten-year planning process to bring together Lovelace obstetrical resources and services for this new facility, which will serve patients across the state.
Vandewater said he found the new health center rewarding. “This is an unbelievable outcome to a risk that we took as regards to putting the programs and organization together.”
Vandewater cited healthcare expansion through Centennial Care and the health insurance exchange. “There are going to be a number of individuals that are going to need access to the services that this office is going to be supplying, particularly for obstetrical and gynecological services.”
Ardent acquired Lovelace from the Cigna Corporation a little over a decade ago.
County Commissioner Wayne Johnson, who represents the eastern half of the Mid-Heights, spoke about the uncertainties of healthcare expansion. “Lovelace and Southwest Medical Associates are rising to the challenge and this facility is proof of that,” he said.
In October 2012, Lovelace Health System acquired Southwest Medical, which describes itself on its website as “one of New Mexico’s largest physician owned and directed multispecialty medical groups.”
Dr. Abraham Lichtmacher, Director of Women’s Services at Lovelace Health System, said “over the last few weeks and months we’ve added a significant number of providers to this organization.” He said Lovelace was “bringing doctors and nurses to this community.”
“We’ve brought together a large group of dedicated professionals, mid-levels, midwives, and obstetricians. We have gynecologists who are part of this group. Within a very short period of time, we’ll have over sixteen positions and mid-level providers working out of this office,” he said.
Lichtmacher said the new facility’s location, fifty feet away from labor and delivery at the hospital, “makes for a very efficient and very safe environment for our patients.” Visitors will find “all the care they need in one location.”
“The risk-specialist down the hall allows us to care for almost any kind of obstetric problem,” Lichtmacher said. The new facility will also serve gynecological needs, “from early adolescence all the way through the geriatric population.”
Lowry Simpson, the lead midwife for the new facility, expressed her excitement for the care and services available through the new facility. She said “midwifery care is familiar to the women of this community.”
Lowry commended Lovelace for enlisting the help of midwives. The doctors and midwives working together at the new facility and hospital will make Lovelace “the preferred choice in Albuquerque.”
After the event, Lichtmacher said Lovelace will increasingly serve people across the state. “New Mexico is a state that is unfortunately underrepresented from a standpoint of medical care.” He sees Lovelace both competing and cooperating with other providers.
Lovelace will “focus on what we do best.” The providers at the new facility will follow evidence-based medical practices. Lichtmacher brings a focus on patient safety. He sees an opportunity to innovate and break free from some outdated traditions.
By next year, Lichtmacher said the hospital hopes to meet World Health Organization requirements and receive the official “baby friendly” designation. The community has supported breastfeeding and midwives are helping to transform Lovelace.
The hospital delivered over 3,000 babies in 2012. It has 120 licensed beds and 53 neonatal intensive care unit beds. Last year the hospital received over 26,000 emergency room and 109,000 outpatient visits and admitted over 6,000 people for inpatient care.