Women's Health Source free health and wellness program has blossomed to
more than 183,000 members in the Philadelphia area since it began in
An annual survey of our members continues to demonstrate a satisfaction
rate of greater than 96 percent and continues to guide us in
developing the newsletter articles, programming and events that
health-conscious women in the Philadelphia area want and need.
Women's Health Source is devoted to Philadelphia-area women. The Menopause
and Youprogram is an example of providing a requested resource
from our audience. This virtual program, directed by Beverly
Vaughn, MD, became a reality in 2003 and provides articles
written by physicians and health care professionals in their field of
expertise. The articles are posted monthly and archived for easy access
on the Women's Health Source website.
Yearly live programming and access to a nurse for personal questions are
other program highlights.
Looking ahead, we are planning to expand suggested programming by adding
blogs and discussion groups to support our Women's Health Source
membership and events to bring members together in education and fun.
Note: The following article was prepared for Advance
for Nurses magazine 2002.
How We Began
By Sharon Register, RN, BSN, Former Women’s Health Source Nurse
With few exceptions, women manage the health care needs of their
families. Between balancing the kids’ dentist appointments and getting
their immunizations, along with the many other interruptions of daily
life, it’s easy for a woman to put off taking care of her own health
In 1996, Main Line Health, composed of Lankenau, Bryn Mawr and Paoli
Memorial Hospitals, established Women’s Health Source (WHS).
The program was initially developed to provide a free health resource
center for women. We wanted to reach women in the hospitals’ service
areas of Montgomery, Delaware and Chester, and parts of
Philadelphia Counties, although the program was not exclusive to these
areas. Instrumental to the program was a registered nurse who assisted
women with health questions and researched health issues for them. The
program also sponsored several health and exercise programs.
By 2001, some 5,300 women had used the resources available through
Women’s Health Source. But was the program meeting the needs of women in
our community? To find out, Main Line Health surveyed these 5,300 women,
asking for their ideas and suggestions. Topics ranged from health issues
of concern for women and their families to newsletter content. We also
asked them if they would join Women’s Health Source if we redesigned the
program, incorporating their suggestions. The response was
In February 2002, the newly designed Women’s Health Source launched as
the area’s only free women’s health membership program. Enhanced
services included free health consultations by a nurse counselor,
programs and screenings targeted to women’s health issues—nutrition,
exercise, childbirth, breast cancer, bone loss, menopause among them—and
discounts to local and national businesses.
Not For Women Only
Beyond women’s health issues, the program assists with referrals and
information in a number of areas. We help people find childcare, or
information about pediatricians, prostate cancer and/or family services,
to name a few. Men also call because they are concerned about their
wives or mothers, or have issues of their own and are seeking services.
People contact us by phone, email or through the Internet.
A New Role and New Rewards
It is most rewarding when we are able to help someone find the answers
they need—whether they are looking for a mom's group or access to free
gynecological exams. Women’s Health Source receives questions as simple
as what to do for a sore throat, or as complex as finding the services
needed to help a family member recover from open-heart surgery. Women
call about issues that are personal to them or a family member. They may
need information on educational classes or they may simply want to
schedule a tour of one of our maternity units. Some are not sure what
type of services they may need. For example, we help them understand if
a cardiac rehabilitation program may be more beneficial for their
condition than another type of exercise program. We help them navigate
the sometimes confusing world of health care today.
If requested services are not available through the our hospitals, we
refer people to services in the community. For example, we once had
contact with a woman who was seeking support for her mentally
challenged, elderly uncle. We defined his needs, took the time to
research community resources and found what she needed for him. In doing
so, we exceeded her expectations—we give people more than they expect.
The Physician Connection
Establishing physician relationships and increasing their awareness of
our services takes time. We are successfully building the
physician/nurse relationship and a number of physicians now refer
patients to us for health care information. Our approach is to keep
physicians informed about the many ways we can help their patients.
For example, we now provide online maternity registration. The
obstetricians and their patients love this service and find it
convenient and easy to use. In addition, a Women’s Health Source
representative serves as a liaison to physicians, as well as to members
of community organizations and businesses, to continue to increase
public awareness of services available through Main Line Health.
Advantages of Membership
While membership is not necessary to access Women’s Health Source
referral services, the free membership entitles women to receive
discounts provided by local and national merchants, including area
fitness centers, salons, theaters and specialty food stores. Members
receive a pink Women’s Health Source card to receive discounts.
Members also receive a quarterly Women’s Health Source 12-page
newsletter filled with health information relevant to their lives. We
also collaborate with other hospital departments to target educational
programs to suit women’s needs.
Finally, Women’s Health Source is striving to strengthen its
collaboration with the community by offering unique services.
Since February 2002, membership has grown to 110,000. For the future,
Women’s Health Source plans to offer specific programs, screenings and
seminars in response to an annual survey of members, seeking to address
unmet needs in the areas served by Main Line Health. For example, we are
finding that many women are seeking a support group for
menopause—support that is almost nonexistent at this time for women in
our area. Future plans also include opportunities for women to meet
socially through Women’s Health Source, such as at a retreat, a night at
the theater or a fashion show. And to continue to better serve women in
our community, we are establishing an advisory group comprised of
Women’s Health Source members who are leaders in our community and who
will further shape the direction of the program.
The ultimate goal in expanding Women's Health Source is to help more
women make their well being a priority. While women traditionally act as
their family's health care advocates, they do not often recognize that
their own health, fitness and self-image are all key components of the
whole family's quality of life. Too often, personal health is not a
priority for the same women who regularly make the medical appointments
for their children, spouses and parents.
Connect with MLH
Women's Health Source
Women's Health Source
240 N. Radnor Chester Rd.
Radnor, PA 19087
For more information, call 1.866.CALL.MLH.