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Dr. Bitar, medical director of MedStar Harbor Women's Care with patient Christy Ryan, RN, after the delivery of her baby girl.
MedStar Harbor Women's Care Goes Above and Beyond
Christy Ryan, RN, was more than halfway through her pregnancy with her third child when she was offered the opportunity to join the team in the Emergency department at MedStar Union Memorial Hospital as a staff nurse. She was excited about her new job, but with it came a change in her health insurance. She needed to find a new obstetrician as soon as possible.
“I was at a critical point in my pregnancy and was experiencing some medical challenges, so it really wasn’t an ideal time to find a new doctor,” Ryan says. “But I had to.”
She began researching her options, focusing on practices located near her home. MedStar Harbor Women’s Care seemed to meet her needs, offering a comprehensive scope of services and an experienced team of physicians and care providers. She made an appointment with Wael Bitar, MD, medical director of the practice, and hoped for the best.
“I knew within a few minutes of meeting Dr. Bitar that I had made the right choice,” says Ryan. “He gave me his full attention. He answered my questions, eased my fears, and promised me that despite my complicated health issues, we would have a healthy mom and a healthy baby girl. And I believed him.”
Ryan’s pregnancy was considered high risk because she has just one kidney, increasing her risk for urological infections and kidney stones, in general, and even more so during pregnancy. Making her situation even more complicated was the fact that at 28 weeks into her pregnancy, she was diagnosed with gestational diabetes.
From that point forward, in addition to taking new medications and meeting regularly with a dietitian, she had weekly screenings in the Fetal Assessment Center at MedStar Harbor Hospital. And every three weeks, her baby girl was measured to ensure her growth was on track.
“Being diagnosed with gestational diabetes was a first for me, and it was life changing,” notes Ryan, already mom to two boys, Nathan, 8, and Jacob, 3. “I had to change everything about the way I was eating. I had to cut carbohydrates and all junk food.”
It was also an emotional time, Ryan recalls. “I was pretty upset and worried,” she adds. “But every time I had a doctor’s appointment, I got the reassurance I needed. Dr. Bitar calmed me down and kept me centered.”
On November 6, 2017, Ryan and her husband Shawn finally got to meet their daughter, Hailey. Seeing and holding her baby girl for the first time, Ryan was filled with a different kind of emotion.
“I kept looking at Hailey and thinking that everything I had gone through during my pregnancy was worth it,” she says. “And I am so thankful that I had such a caring and supportive doctor and team by my side, working with me week in and week out to get me to that day.”
Caring for Women of all Ages
MedStar Harbor Women’s Care offers comprehensive obstetrical and gynecological services for women of all ages. The practice prides itself on its ability to offer care that addresses health issues that impact women at every stage of their lives. Dr. Bitar is one of three board-certified physicians who serve the practice, working alongside two nurse practitioners and a group of medical assistants.
“Our team is very diverse, which allows us to truly accommodate patients with various medical needs and personal preferences,” explains Christina Barett, CRNP, a certified registered nurse practitioner. “We all have different backgrounds and key areas of interest or a specialty. Some of our providers speak multiple languages.”
And, as part of the MedStar Health network, the team can easily streamline care for patients who present with more complex medical issues, and need a referral to another specialist.
“We have relationships with physicians who focus on different kinds of medicine, and we can quickly refer a patient who has a problem or condition we can’t address,” Barett adds. “For example, we collaborate often with the gynecologic oncologists at MedStar Harbor when our patients have a need for those services.”
One thing that also sets MedStar Harbor Women’s Care apart from other local practices is its focus on holistic health. While women come in primarily for obstetrical and gynecological care, they find that they’re able to talk about and get guidance on a wide range of health issues.
For example, a woman who comes in for her annual checkup might end up engaging her physician in a conversation about diabetes, thyroid issues, or depression. It’s also common for questions to come up about nutrition, sleep habits, and strategies for coping with stress.
“Our job is to see the patient as a whole person and be a liaison for her good health,” says Fawn Manning, MD. “Sometimes we are talking with a patient about very sensitive issues; in fact, it might be the first time she is having a conversation out loud about an extremely personal topic. But we want her to open up and feel comfortable confiding in us because when she does, we can point her in the right direction.”
Dr. Manning notes that many of those conversations include laughs, hugs, and sometimes even tears and tissues. “I get to connect with my patients during the most special and personal moments in their lives, whether it’s about marriages, babies, getting through challenging medical issues, or the loss of a spouse,” she says. “I hear about it and I get to be part of it. And I get to help that woman through it. This isn’t a job for me; it’s a life.”
MedStar Harbor Women’s Care offers its services in three locations: on the MedStar Harbor campus, in Federal Hill in Baltimore City, and in Pasadena. The same scope of medical care is available at each location, and providers rotate between the three offices, giving patients flexibility and options when it comes to scheduling and managing health care.
“Many patients utilize two locations because they live close to one and work close to another,” says Barett. “They appreciate that convenience and the fact that it makes it easier to get an appointment quickly.”
The practice is currently accepting new patients. Appointments are available at any of the locations by calling 410-354-0800.