Women's Health Conference strikes healthy cord with community

DOWNEY - More than 100 women ranging in age from their 20's to their 90's gathered in the ballroom of the Rio Hondo Event Center last Saturday for the Second Annual Rancho Women's Health Conference."The conference helped fill the huge void in critical health information that exists for most women with the rapidly changing healthcare landscape we see today," said Conference Chair Yaga Szlachcic, MD. "Our aim was to discuss many recent advances in women's health." The conference spanned topics from A to Z (adaptive exercise to Zumba), beginning with an informative report on the status of women's health throughout Los Angeles County by Ellen Eidem, director of the County Public Health Department's Office of Women's Health. "We're constantly getting requests to speak about women's health throughout the community," Dr. Szlachcic said. "We created the conference so that women could get answers to their most pressing health questions." The conference attendees were also able to practice healthy behaviors, with yoga, relaxation techniques, stretching exercises and instruction so that participants could continue their healthy movements at home. A few men, including Downey Councilmember Fernando Vasquez, also attended and participated. The President of Rancho's Physician Staff Association, Sylvia Shaw, MD, explained hormonal changes that occur throughout women's life cycle. "Many of the women in our audience had come face-to-face with hormonal issues later in life, and Dr. Shaw's presentation not only helped put these issues into perspective, it gave everyone an idea of what they can expect during the healthy aging process," Dr. Szlachcic said. "This was just one of the many sessions that gave women new resources to help lead healthier lives," said conference committee member Madonna Cavagnaro. "Conferees were presented with data on the prevalence of stroke in women, factors predisposing, prevention and what to do should symptoms suddenly present in a family member. The meeting continued with a presentation on what posture does for how we feel. And one of the sweeter lectures covered the medicinal qualities of dark chocolate-which was met with smiles from everyone!" "This conference is part of Rancho's efforts to continue its dialogue with women in the community to promote better health not just for those that attended, but for their families and the community they interact with and support," she said. The reason a world-renowned rehabilitation hospital such as Rancho would put on a women's health conference is simple…the number of women who are experiencing disabling illnesses and injuries has skyrocketed over the last three decades. "It used to be that the vast majority of Rancho's patients were male," said Dr. Szlachcic. But today, we are seeing more and more women with stroke and other neurological disorders," Dr. Szlachic said. "In fact, under the leadership of Dr. Amytis Towfighi, Rancho established an acute stroke service just a few years ago and today we see more stroke patients than any L.A. County hospital." Most conference lectures and movement demonstrations were presented by renowned physicians and therapists from Rancho Los Amigos National Rehabilitation Center. The Los Amigos Research and Education Institute was the major sponsor and organizer of the conference, with assistance from the Rancho Los Amigos Foundation. Other major sponsors were Primary Critical Care Medical Group and Sodexo Health Care. In addition, Kaiser Permanente contributed women's health magnets and seeds of healthy ideas packets for each of the participants. "We want to especially thank Rio Hondo Event Center's Mark Shelton for the outstanding support he gave us every step of the way as we transitioned the Women's Conference from Rancho to Rio Hondo this year," Dr. Szlachcic said. "Moving the conference location not only allowed us to include more participants in the event, it gave us the opportunity to learn in the beautiful setting of the Rio Hondo golf course." One of the participants-the brilliant and beloved Jacquelin Perry, MD-was already looking forward to next year's event. "I'll be joining you for next year's conference!" the legendary 93-year-old Rancho physician told Dr. Szlachcic at the conclusion of the event. In a day filled with health, happiness and hope, that was perhaps the best news of all.

********** Published: October 20, 2011 - Volume 10 - Issue 27