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MIT Medical considers enhanced services for women; OB/GYN shifted

During meetings with women in the MIT community to discuss changes in MIT Medical's obstetrics and gynecology service (OB/GYN), MIT Medical Director William Kettyle and Executive Director Annette Jacobs discovered additional needs that should be addressed.

"It also became very clear that there was an important need for enhancement of primary care services for women in our community," including the desire to have more female physicians, Kettyle told David Lewis, managing editor of the Faculty Newsletter, in a wide-ranging interview.

"We are in the process of thinking together with the women in our community, among ourselves here and with colleagues in the medical community around us, about designing a system that would meet the health care needs of women," Kettyle said.

Starting Jan. 1, OB/GYN deliveries and surgeries will shift from Brigham and Women's Hospital to Mt. Auburn Hospital in Cambridge, which offers midwife services and access to office care in the western suburbs. MIT Medical's five obstetricians delivered 35 to 40 babies apiece each year, compared with 80 to 120 by doctors at Mt. Auburn.

"Our commitment to the women of the MIT community remains steadfast," said Jacobs. "By working with Mt. Auburn, we will be able to offer more extensive and robust women's health services."

While reducing the total number of physicians in the service, plans call for hiring one new doctor and one nurse practitioner. If there is community interest and demand, midwife services will also be available at MIT Medical. Prenatal and routine gynecological care will continue to be offered on campus.

"We have had a terrific, well-managed, clinically strong OB/GYN service," Kettyle said. "Our need to balance the use of our resources to continue strong programs and service delivery led us to look at what we are doing in all clinical areas. We did extensive research and had conversations with many groups to identify a partner that would enable us to maintain our culture, better use existing resources, and enhance services to the community we serve in a sophisticated community setting.

"The changes are fiscally driven at some level, but at another level it's, I think, a process of making sure that we are using our resources in a way that best serves this community. In the OB/GYN area it's largely an issue of scale," he said.

Kettyle said the goal is to continue to have on-site OB/GYN services and to maintain the staffing to meet the needs of the community for that service.

"Delivering babies is clearly important, but it's one part of the care need," he said. "Rebalancing our spending on obstetrics will allow us to redirect resources in a way which I think will enhance the care of women in the MIT community."

The complete Faculty Newsletter interview with Kettyle is available at

A version of this article appeared in MIT Tech Talk on October 8, 2003.

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