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April 8, 2009 > Women's Center Celebrates Second Anniversary

Women's Center Celebrates Second Anniversary

Woman-Centered Services Include Diagnostics, Wellness Classes - and Massage

As moms, sisters, daughters and wives, women wear many hats. Caregiver, head chef, bookkeeper, Dr. Mom... The list goes on and on. As a result, many times women spend more time taking care of other people than they do themselves. Doctors' appointments get put off; mammograms get rescheduled. And just forget about time for pampering.

But does it have to be that way?

The answer from Kathy Hesser, R.N., clinical coordinator of the Washington Women's Center, is a resounding no. To improve their health and ability to care for others, women should take the time to look after not only their physical health, but also their overall wellbeing.

"We are a Women's Center where we offer not only the diagnostic services like mammograms and breast cancer navigation, but also wellness classes and massage, which are also very important," Hesser says. "I think that it's nice for women to know that there's a community center designed for them that's close to home and that they can trust."

The center, which is celebrating its second anniversary, has grown quickly since opening its doors.

"We continue to add more programs all the time," according to Hesser.

Improving wellbeing through massage

One of the services the center offers that Hesser sees as a critical element to wellbeing is massage therapy, which is available at the center by appointment between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m., Monday through Friday.

The massage therapy program, which is personalized for each individual, incorporates different methods of massage, including Swedish, therapeutic and hot stone, according to Hesser.

"The program really tries to tailor the massage to the person," she says. "In some settings, you say hi to the massage therapist and you lie down. With our program, we're trying to figure out what your goals are for massage therapy. Do you have chronic conditions or do you have certain things that are issues? We do a brief assessment so that the therapist can go over it, and she may have me review your information for a nurse's perspective to pinpoint any health concerns.

"Our therapist has quite a few years experience working with people's special health concerns, including fibromyalgia and arthritis. Sometimes people will request deep tissue, and she'll counsel people on what might be more appropriate for the individual's age and health conditions."

Genetic counseling

Another program being incorporated into the center's list of services is counseling for men and women that are at risk for certain genetic conditions.

"The Washington Women's and Imaging Center is collaborating with Stanford to offer genetic counseling and testing on this side of the Bay for people that have any risk factors for breast cancer or colon cancer syndromes," Hesser says.

A genetic counselor and an oncologist help women and men at risk for inherited disorders by advising them of the consequences and nature of a particular disorder, the probability of developing or transmitting it, and the options open to them in management and family planning in order to prevent, avoid or improve outcomes.

Fitness for all ages, ability levels

The center's range of fitness classes geared toward women of all ages and ability levels has also continued to expand.

"Women can go to a yoga class and reap the benefits from it even if they don't consider themselves to be 'athletic,'" Hesser points out. "Our classes offer a safe environment that allow women to do things they might not be able to do at a community class or at the gym."

"Our yoga classes are full because they're so good. The same with the arthritis class. Ladies just appreciate the small size of the classes and our great instructors who make fitness fun and help ladies feel good about themselves. That's what it's all about."

Keys to avoiding the "D" word

The center also offers comprehensive nutrition classes taught by registered dietitians to help women eat right for weight loss and overall health.

"One of the programs that has really taken off and will continue grow is our nutritional program called The Right Weigh Program," Hesser says. "It's a women's only program that's geared toward teaching ladies the basics of how to eat right and therefore lose weight. It's not a diet; it's a lifestyle program that integrates exercise and good ways to eat to stay well and lose weight. It's a three-month program led by a dietitian and then they can graduate into a once a month program called The Right Track. It's focused on a woman's perspective of caring for family and staying well and getting to a healthier weight without the D word (diet)."

Hesser says many of the women that have participated in The Right Weigh Program have also become fans of the center's yoga classes.

"I'm very proud of these ladies for making healthy choices, feeling better about themselves and being able to do more than they could do before. These ladies are really turning it around."

Breast health services continue to expand

In addition to education and wellness services, the center is always working to expand breast health services, Hesser says.

"We continue to listen to our clients and families and we are adding classes to help breast cancer survivors deal with the side effects of chemotherapy and focus what they can do for themselves," she says.

To see a complete list of services related to breast health and mammography services, visit, click on "Services & Programs" and select "Women's Health" from the drop-down menu.

Women's health services for a brighter tomorrow

The Washington Women's Center is located at 2500 Mowry Avenue, Suite 150 in the Washington West building, across the street from the main hospital in Fremont.

For general information and information about wellness programs, including nutritional services, exercise programs and massage therapy, call (510) 608-1301.

To schedule an appointment for a mammogram, ultrasound or a bone density scan (DEXA), call (510) 791-3410.

To schedule an MRI appointment, call (510) 608-1380.

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