The Her Program at Johnson Memorial Hospital Helps Women Find Care in One Convenient Place

Writer / Christy Heitger-Ewing

Photography / JWcreative.indy

For years, Dr. Emily Cline, board certified in obstetrics and gynecology, has been passionate about women’s health issues. That’s why she pursued the field of gynecology in the first place. Born in Bloomington, Cline grew up in Indianapolis and practiced gynecology in Franklin for 19 years before spending nearly two years in Knoxville. When a family member became ill, however, Cline moved back to the area and fate intervened when administrators at Johnson Memorial Hospital called to ask if she’d like to return to work with them. And that wasn’t all.

“They said, ‘The women’s program you wanted to start — we’d like to help you get that up and running,’” recalls Cline, referring to the “Her Program” that launched in November 2018 at Johnson Memorial Hospital.

It centers around issues that directly affect women such as urinary incontinence and pelvic organ prolapse (when the pelvic floor collapses and the bladder drops).

According to National Institutes of Health, of the 25 million adult Americans suffering from some form of urinary incontinence, 75 to 80 percent of those are female.

“There’s a growing need for this type of service — especially as baby boomers start coming of age,” says Cline, who notes that women are starting to become more empowered when it comes to their health care. As a result, they’re actively seeking treatment for problems that they once chalked up as inevitable due to the aging process.

“They thought, ‘Well, my mom dealt with these issues so now I’ll have to do the same,’” Cline adds.

But she insists that there’s no need for women to buy stock in Depends when they can seek treatment, which may range from diet and fluid management to behavior modifications and medications. While surgery may be an option, often it isn’t necessary as there are a number of conservative non-invasive treatments that can make a huge difference.

In the future, Cline would like to have a brick and mortar presence, creating a community center for functions and educational programs, a lending library, a café and a boutique gift shop.

“I look at this program as a daisy,” she says. “The center of the flower is our navigator, Sandi Stinson, who has been my medical assistant for more than 20 years.”

Stinson is the Her Care Coordinator and the patient’s first point of contact. She schedules intake interviews, orders testing and sets appointments.

“Like petals on a daisy, I’d like to add services — perhaps cardiac, pediatric or family medicine,” Cline says. “Ultimately, I envision this being women’s one call for anything they need for themselves or their families.”

Right now, however, the focus is strictly on pelvic health such as leaky bladder and pelvic floor disorder.

“I wanted to tackle these particular issues because they have been taboo topics for so long,” says Cline, who relishes giving ladies their lives back.

For instance, one patient complained that she could no longer play with her grandchildren because every time she stood, strained, coughed or climbed stairs she would leak. But after seeing Cline, the woman was able to resume play mode.

Another patient was an avid runner who had to give up competing in races due to incontinence. Post-treatment, however, the woman is running marathons again. A third patient morphed into a recluse after having a series of public accidents.

“She got to the point where she was turning down every social invitation because she didn’t want to risk embarrassing herself,” Cline says. “Her bladder was not only running her life, it was ruining her life.”

Cline, who describes the program as “still shiny and new” looks forward to getting the word out so that women learn that they have options when it comes to their pelvic health.

“I’ve wanted to do this for years,” she says. “I hope it makes an impact.”

Call today to schedule an appointment, no physician referral is required. The Her Program is located inside Johnson Memorial Hospital located at 1125 W. Jefferson Street in Franklin. For more information, call 833-383-4HER or visit online at go.johnsonmemorial.org/her.