Women's Health Center Gains New Space

April 29, 2004

Madeline Vann
Phone: (504) 865-5714

The umber building with Art Deco motifs provides a warm counterpoint to the clinical architectural styles of the Tulane University Health Sciences Center.

magnusBuilt in the 1930s, the former clinical research facility is the new home of the Tulane-Xavier National Center of Excellence in Women's Health.

Although the administrative offices on the second floor are already occupied, the first-floor clinic needs a few finishing touches and should be open by the end of April.

It will be the first time that the physicians, faculty, staff and students who work with the women's center have a home to call their own.

"This building gives the women's center and all the faculty and students associated with it a much-needed home base," says director Jeanette Magnus.

The women's center was funded in 1998, but had no dedicated space of its own. Administrative offices and the clinic have been separated by several blocks. Now, however, all components of the center will be geographically unified. It took months and substantial support from health sciences center leaders for the elements to fall into place.

Magnus took her idea for a building to house the center to Paul Whelton, senior vice president for health sciences, during the 2003 winter break.

Ian Taylor, dean of the school of medicine, offered the building at the corner of South Liberty and Cleveland Avenue as a women's center. Jim Montgomery, chief executive officer of Tulane University Hospital and Clinic, agreed to renovate the first floor as a clinic, and the Frost Foundation permitted some of the money donated to create the Mary Amelia Douglas-Whited Community Women's Health Education Center to be used for administrative facilities on the second floor.

Magnus anticipates that administrative space will be flexible as the women's center grows during the next five years. When first funded, the center had five staff members. Today it has 13, not including faculty and students whose contributions of time and energy are vital to the center's work. Magnus says she is proud of the expanded student space. Ten cubicles are available for students to use for women's health projects.

This is a welcome development, says public health student Michelle Peterson, who has been working since October 2003 to develop a four-hour professional education program about breast feeding for public health and medical practitioners. Peterson worked on her project from home, but with the additional space she can work at the center between classes, with more access to the supervision and information she needs.

Expanded staff and student spaces are only two of the building's offerings. The design includes the first and only on-campus breast pumping station for staff in a modified bathroom, complete with a double pump, seating and a refrigerator. All the elements of planning for the building have been addressed to make the space efficient and friendly, from chairs and plants tucked in intimate corners to the organization of clinic space.

"It was a challenge establishing a logical flow," Magnus says of the first-floor clinic. The clinic contains a mammography suite, a bone-density scanner, eight exam rooms and a spacious, windowed waiting area. Patients will be able to pick up health-education materials and use a computer station to get information.

Magnus, who will be practicing at the clinic, adds, "We recognize that women have limited time to devote to their healthcare, and we want to use that time not only to care for them, but to effectively educate and empower them. This building makes it more possible for us to fulfill all components of our mission."

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