Local OB/GYN practice reborn after tragedy

By Steve Smith - Staff Writer
Region - posted Wed., Feb. 9, 2011
(L-r) Nurse Practitioner Jean Ohliger, Dr. Martin Savage, and Dr. Gayle Harris. Photo by Steve Smith.
(L-r) Nurse Practitioner Jean Ohliger, Dr. Martin Savage, and Dr. Gayle Harris. Photo by Steve Smith.

For patients at Connecticut Women Obstetrics and Gynecology in South Windsor, the practice which many of them had grown to love was in a state of limbo since the untimely death of Dr. Steven Grady last year.

Grady died tragically in a car accident on Jan. 10, 2010, but Dr. Gayle Harris has recently purchased the practice.

Office staff said there was much concern among patients about the future of the practice, but under Harris, staff and patient concerns are quickly being calmed because she is not only a familiar face, but of like mind to Grady.

He was the icon. It's still going to be hard to re-coup from [losing him], but we're still here,” said office manager Mary Chris Hanson. “We're still a great practice, and we're still here for our patients.”

We wanted to try to keep things going, and keep the practice together,” Harris said. “After debating back and forth how best to go about doing that, I decided what I would do is merge the practice with my own.”

Harris, an obstetrician and gynecologist, had an association with Grady (who was primarily a gynecologist), essentially sharing the office as part of her own practice, Collins Medical – but the two helped each other on cases, and were like family, along with the other doctors at Connecticut Women.

As part of its enhanced women's healthcare, Connecticut Women also offers adolescent gynecology, including the Gardasil vaccine, obstetrical care, and an in-office surgical suite with ultrasound and phlebotomy.

The practice also offers Bio-Identical Hormone Replacement Therapy (BHRT), which is a big part of the holistic approach.

Nurse-practitioner Jean Ohliger, APRN, explained that BHRT is largely for women who need alternatives to estrogen treatments, and is similar to the natural ways hormones are created.

It began as an alternative way to give menopausal women hormone-replacement therapy,” Ohliger said. “Grady contacted Pioneer Compounding Pharmacy in Vernon, and together they came up with some estrogen and progesterone in a cream. Some women got better, but not all of them. They found that it's not about giving a woman estrogen, but about looking at the whole person.”

Ohliger added that much of the therapy involves the adrenal gland's production of cortisol, which is seen as part of the “whole person” approach that also includes looking at adrenal support systems, such as sleep habits, diet, vitamins and stress management.

Many of the patients benefited from the new therapies, and some even traveled great distances for the “extra mile” that the staff at Connecticut Women went for their patients.

Now, many won't need to travel as far, since Collins Medical's offices, affiliated with Connecticut Women, are located in Enfield and West Hartford.

Grady was very concerned about the wellness of his patients, and did extra research, which sometimes resulted in his being able to get therapies covered by insurance, staff said, but he was also aware of the choices that patients had to make, and how to get that balance to save on their costs.

Harris said the practice is called Connecticut Women for a reason, and she saw the value of it because it does treat the whole woman – not just when they are expecting, or experiencing problems.

That's what's different about Connecticut Women,” one patient said. “The doctors listen more. They take the time to take all of the pieces together to get the answer.”

Connecticut Women's staff also includes Dr. Martin Savage, Dr. Stacy Spiro, Dr. Peggy Ku, Sallie Caliandri, ARPN, and Cassie Delude, ARPN. Connecticut Women is also affiliated with both ECHN and Saint Francis Care networks.

For more information, visit www.ctwomenobgyn.com.

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