Charleston Area Medical Center was named last week as a Center of Excellence in continence care for women, becoming the only health provider in the state designated as such.
Dr. Josh Lohri, with CAMC’s Pelvic Floor Center, was also named a Surgeon of Excellence in continence care. Both designations come from the Surgical Review Corporation, a nonprofit group focused on patient safety and administering accreditations for hospitals and doctors.
Lohri said the designation is an honor, and a sign the hospital is doing a good job to serve people who may need help with sensitive, sometimes difficult to explain, issues.
“This designation validates the work we’re doing, sometimes that we’re the only ones doing,” Lohri said. “Gynecologists aren’t doing pelvic prolapse and incontinence treatment very often on their own, so, with us being here, we’ve been able to absorb those patients and work directly with the gynecologists.”
Continence care, which is helping people control their bladder and bowel movements due to issues that can arise from a number of sources, can be complicated, Lohri said. People are often embarrassed. They may not know where to go for help, or what to say.
“As doctors, I think we find ourselves probing patients sometimes to get them to open up and talk about those things,” Lohri said. “Sometimes they’ll get bothered by it enough and come in, but otherwise it’s probing them and their history, then showing them there is room for improvement, and we can help you get there.”
The issues affect people’s daily lives, Lohri said, but once help comes, the patients are often some of the happiest to leave CAMC’s care.
“There are women who, they’re afraid to sneeze or cough because of a leak. They won’t go to their kid’s baseball games, or out to dinner because they’re afraid of an accident, or people noticing a smell of urine. They wear dark colors just in case something happens,” Lohri said. “It can control people’s lives. When they start to see results from the care and realize it doesn’t have to be that way, it’s life changing sometimes.”
Continence care is a central focus of CAMC’s Pelvic Floor Center. The program is one of only a handful in the state that treats pelvic floor conditions.
Lohri said when people begin experiencing incontinence, they often don’t understand the real, underlying health issues. They may assume it’s a sign of aging, or an unavoidable consequence of birthing a baby.
“Many people think it’s something they just have to live with. They’ve never been offered the care before, especially if the issues are new, or they don’t know how to ask what’s wrong,” Lohri said. “Through usually minimally invasive means, we can really help people regain control of their bladder and that part of their life.”