Fitting the theme of ACOG’s 66th Annual Clinical and Scientific Meeting, “Medical and Surgical Innovations in Health Care,” this year’s meeting starts with some innovations to the President’s Program, which will cover the evolution of the postpartum visit.
Instead of three specific and non-related lectures, this year’s program is a “President’s Panel.” President Haywood L. Brown, MD, FACOG, will moderate an all-star roundtable discussion on “The New Postpartum Visit: Beginning of Lifelong Health.” The 90-minute panel starts at 8:30 am in the Austin Convention Center’s Exhibit Hall 5 following the Opening Ceremonies at 8 am.
“We want to have a conversation about the importance of the women’s health follow-up in the postpartum period and beyond,” Dr. Brown said. “As ob-gyns, we have a responsibility because we’re primary doctors that most women see for the bulk of care throughout their lives. As a result, we must make sure that an appropriate women’s follow-up is done.”
Joining Dr. Brown on stage Friday morning will be American College of Cardiology President Mary N. “Minnow” Walsh, MD; Ambassador Nancy G. Brinker, founder of the Susan G. Komen for the Cure organization; and Wanda D. Barfield, MD, MPH, assistant surgeon general of the U.S. Public Health Service and director of the Division of Reproductive Health within the National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Each of Dr. Brown’s guests will give a short presentation: Dr. Walsh on the relationship between pregnancy complications and cardiovascular disease; Ambassador Brinker on women’s cancers, the importance of screening, the availability of screening, and the relationships between genetics and those cancers; and Dr. Barfield on chronic diseases in women, with a focus on women’s mental health, depression, and its impact on long-term health.
All three will then join Dr. Brown for what he describes as a “fireside chat.” While he will start the roundtable discussion with questions, Dr. Brown said that the audience should be ready to play a role in this year’s forum, including the possibility of directing questions to the panel.
Drs. Brown and Walsh have been colleagues since they were both on the teaching and clinical faculty in Indianapolis, IN. Dr. Barfield has joined ACOG on several occasions in Washington, D.C., engaging in discussions about maternal health and maternal mortality reviews. Dr. Brown met Brinker several years ago, and in addition to her work with the Komen organization, she helped set up cervical cancer screening programs in developing countries while serving as an ambassador during President George W. Bush’s administration.
Postpartum care has been a focus during Dr. Brown’s presidency. The “Redefining the Postpartum Visit” task force and the Committee on Obstetric Practice are expected to release a revised “Optimizing Postpartum Care” Committee Opinion in the coming weeks, which will propose a new postpartum care paradigm. The task force confronts two areas: Redesigning the postpartum visit and researching and highlighting the impact of pregnancy complications such as high blood pressure (preeclampsia) on long-term health.
“One of the things that we decided to do was recognize the importance of seeing women earlier in the postpartum period than the standard six-week period,” he said. “Our focus has been to change that because it’s so important to screen women for depression early in the postpartum period, emphasize achieving a healthier weight between pregnancies, and ensure that women follow the appropriate periodic screening guidelines for cervical and breast cancer in particular to help guide them.
“And we know that many women don’t show up for their postpartum visit. If they don’t show up, it’s hard to intervene. One of my thoughts has always been that a woman needs to have a reason to come, and we have to give them the reasons to come.”