JOINT BASE SAN ANTONIO-LACKLAND, Texas --
The 59th Medical Wing highlighted Maj. Hannah Valdes-Chenoweth, 959th Surgical Operations Squadron obstetrician and gynecologist, in honor of National Woman Physician Day.
Valdes-Chenoweth took over as medical director in the Women’s Health Clinic at Wilford Hall Surgical Ambulatory Center, Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland, Texas in August 2022.
As medical director, she is always available, whether in person, by phone, text or Military Health System Genesis Patient Portal. She also works regularly in Labor and Delivery at Brooke Army Medical Center.
“I think what we do here is essential,” said Valdes-Chenoweth. “We provide quality, comprehensive and compassionate care for our patients and part of my function is supporting the nurse practitioners and midwives. So, in order to assure that we really have the quality that our patients deserve, I need to be available for any questions or consults at any time.”
Every week there are rotating physicians from BAMC that work in the Women’s Health Clinic at the WHASC. Valdes-Chenoweth verifies those physicians credentials to expand patient’s access to care at the WHASC.
“She is a great resource if we have questions about OB care for our patients,” said Monica Wheaton, 59th Medical Operation’s Squadron Women’s Health Clinic element leader. “She is a liaison between the WHASC and BAMC clinics.”
During the transition to offer more OB services, the clinic has served over 16,000 patients in the past year. Along with offering OB services, walk-in services are offered on Tuesday and Thursday mornings for the Persons In Need of Contraception Clinic.
“We see everything from basic obstetrics where we do the patient's first ultrasound up until they go to BAMC to deliver,” said Valdes-Chenoweth. “We offer full-scope gynecology care that includes surgical consults, annual exams, referrals from mammography and we also have our PINC clinic, which is an amazing program. About a couple of months ago we had our 1000th patient in PINC.”
With more physicians from BAMC rotating through the Women’s Health Clinic at the WHASC they are able to support more complicated pregnancies and patients in need of gynecological surgeries. Because the physicians from BAMC were already supporting more surgical services patient’s can now be seen for services such as hysterectomies, surgical sterilization and procedures for fibroids. Valdes-Chenoweth explained that it’s a better way to streamline care and with more physicians they can see more patients.
“If we have a patient with a unique or complicated finding in the laboratory or radiology evaluation, she is always helpful in giving guidance for a plan of care or management of various conditions,” said Wheaton.
Valdes-Chenoweth expressed how she finds it a privilege to spend time developing trust and caring for women. She enjoys the variety of procedures and patients she sees from children up to postmenopause, labor, delivery and surgery.
“I want women to know, and anyone that identifies on the gender-spectrum, that understanding your body is an essential part of your health,” said Valdes-Chenoweth. “OBGYNs are resources for patients to learn about their bodies and to build a relationship with a physician who’s going to take their needs into consideration and focus on listening, building an alliance with them and addressing those needs so that we can help support them in living their best lives.”
It’s important to have an annual exam giving you a chance to touch base with your OBGYN and any women’s health care needs.
“The guidelines for getting pap smears have changed so we don’t get one every year, but some mistakenly believe that they don’t need to come in every year,” explained Valdes-Chenoweth. “Just because you don’t need a cervical cancer screening that year doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t check in and talk about how your health and periods are going. Along with any other needs or questions a patient may have. For example, her breast health or if they are trying to conceive. There are so many other things we can cover at an annual exam and it is a good time to take accountability for your health.”
To schedule an appointment with the Women’s Health Clinic, call the Consult and Appointment Management Office at 210-916-9900. For procedures call 210-292-2346.
“A lot of people feel uncomfortable talking about their sexual health and they think they have stupid questions,” said Valdes-Chenoweth. “But there is no question that’s off-limits and people should not feel ashamed when they leave here. They should feel empowered and more knowledgeable. So, whether it’s about safety, sex, gender concerns, how to handle going through menopause or what to do when a patient’s daughter starts her period, these are life questions that need answers. We’re here to provide for them and listen. Listening is one of the most important aspects of my job. If I can’t listen to someone and truly hear what they’re going through, then I can’t provide them with the care they need.”