Mayo Clinic is opening a women’s health center to provide holistic and tailored care — not just in gender-specific fields such as breast health and gynecology, but in broader areas of medicine where the needs of women have been overlooked or misunderstood.
Launched late last month through a $5 million donation by Penny and Bill George and the George Family Foundation, the Center for Women’s Health seeks to copy Mayo’s Executive Health Program for high-profile and high-dollar clients and provide similar, comprehensive care for women.
The center will “set a new national standard for women’s health care, providing personalized care that considers women as partners in their health care,” said Dr. Stephanie Faubion, director of the new center on Mayo’s Rochester, Minn., campus. “The center’s goal is to become a destination for women’s health care where patients are not only treated for a specific condition, but also empowered with the tools and knowledge they need to improve their overall health and wellness.”
One goal of the center is to offer gender-tailored treatment for certain condition which, research has shown, emerge differently in men and women, such as heart attacks. Male-dominated studies had long masked the differences in how heart attacks emerge in women, who are more likely than men to suffer attacks without chest pain or pressure, but with more secondary symptoms such as nausea, fatigue and difficulty breathing.
The Georges intend their funding to launch the center’s clinical care and research, but also hope that it inspires additional support for the new concept, said Bill George, a former Medtronic chief executive who served on Mayo’s board of trustees from 2012 to 2019. “It’s our hope that the Center for Women’s Health inspires other philanthropists to join in the mission to transform health care for women, ensuring its continued success and elevating women’s health as a priority at Mayo Clinic,” he said.
The center also will build on the George family’s interest in holistic and alternative therapies, an interest borne of Penny George’s experience as a breast cancer survivor. Her name is now synonymous with Allina Health’s Penny George Institute, based in Minneapolis, which promotes the use and research on techniques such as acupuncture, nutrition counseling and spiritual healing.
“The focus will be not only on women,” she said, “but also on integrative health and healing practices that will go hand in hand with traditional medicine.”