The importance of OB-GYN visits

Rural women have lower OB-GYN visit rates than urban women.
Courtesy of Rush Health Systems.
Courtesy of Rush Health Systems.(WTOK)
Published: Mar. 21, 2022 at 10:28 AM EDT
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MERIDIAN, Miss. (WTOK) - The month of March marks National Women’s History Month—a unique time to make sure women’s issues are recognized.

Dr. Alyse Boswell is an obstetrician-gynecologist at Rush Health Systems.

“My practice covers all of obstetrics, as well as gynecology,” Dr. Boswell said. “I specialize in routine prenatal care, as well as high risk obstetrics. In terms of gynecology, anything from birth control to annual pap smears, abnormal bleeding, problems with periods, chronic pelvic pain. Things like that.”

Dr. Boswell has seen the challenges patients face in rural areas.

In the last ten years, rural women have lower OB-GYN visit rates than urban women. There’s a higher chance of visiting family medicine physicians and nurse practitioners instead.

Here in Meridian, there are only ten OB-GYN’s.

“It has been several years ago but at one point we had several OB-GYN’s. Now, the ten that you mentioned—of that ten, only six are still practicing obstetrics, specifically.” Dr. Boswell said, “The others are still doing gynecology. But obstetrics itself is still an issue, as well.”

Dr. Boswell says there’s a delay to be able to get in to see a physician due to lower availability.

“That impacts not only the rest of their prenatal care but as well as time of delivery that is put in their chart,” Dr. Boswell said. “So, it does have a significant impact. There are labs and tests and ultrasounds that need to be performed in the first trimester. If there’s a delay, sometimes we miss the window for those things to be done.”

With the small number of OB-GYN’s in the East Mississippi area-- Dr. Boswell says she will continue to stick around for other women.

“Honestly, being able to practice medicine in the area where I’m from, where you grow up, it’s an honor and a pleasure to be able to practice medicine and take care of the people that raised you. They’re your family and friends.” Dr. Boswell went on to say, “I feel it is important to know your patient and that includes where they are from. If they are from a county or two away, it really makes an impact knowing what their drive is like.”

People from a wide area depend on Meridian for their health care. Dr. Boswell considers the difficulty with access to transportation.

“We’ve got patients coming in from Philadelphia, as well as Butler, York—all these patients are pregnant so having to coordinate their prenatal care with the drive is very important. Being able to factor in when they go into labor is really a critical piece in their prenatal care,” Dr. Boswell said.

She encourages women to continue to show up for themselves and see an OB-GYN.

“Take control of your health care. You can be the best advocate for yourself. So, when you feel like something is wrong, if you’re noticing some symptoms or you feel like you need help with even your mental health. Speak up and take control of your life and get help,” Dr. Boswell said.

Since there is a low number of OB-GYN’s, Rush Health Systems will soon have opportunities for students who want to enter this career path.

We’ll have more information in the coming months.

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