AUGUSTA — Women veterans will no longer have to travel to Boston to see a gynecologist at a veterans hospital, now that the hospital at Togus plans to offer specialized women’s medical care.
“Basically, what’s happened is that we have an intern that does basic GYN exams; any woman that needed anything more had to go to Boston or pay for it out of their pocket,” said Kathleen Lyons, women veterans coordinator at the Veterans Affairs Medical and Regional Office Center at Togus. “What we’ve done is contracted the services of a gynecologist to come here and provide those services to women.”
The Togus facility will offer Pap smears, mammogram screening, osteoporosis education, estrogen therapy and incontinence screening.
A board-certified gynecologist will be at Togus one day a week.
About 750 women veterans statewide receive service from the Department of Veterans Affairs. According to Lyons, most of the women veterans have families and jobs and don’t have the time to travel to Boston.
“It’s a big commitment from the VA of Maine at this time when the budget is shrinking to put resources toward this,” Lyons said. “It shows that we value and are committed to providing services to this population. It’s not the same as taking care of a man.”
The new women’s health program will also offer preventive care with nurse practitioner Sherry Kempton, who recently completed a new preventive care training program in San Francisco.
“I learned about pelvic exams, breast exams, and incontinence screening and treatment. I think women here are really going to be pleased. The percentage of women in the military has increased, and they need these kinds of services,” Kempton said.