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Providence Prenatal Center welcomes women of all ages

Date: 9/28/2011

Sept. 28, 2011

By Lori Szepelak


HOLYOKE — With a bright new space to call home, Maritza Smidy, M.Ed., practice manager of the Providence Prenatal Center of Holyoke, is “excited” to welcome women of all ages to the facility.

The former manufacturing building at 306 Race St. with its refurbished wooden beams has been transformed on the street level to provide the center with a larger space offering prenatal and postnatal obstetrical care, childbirth and early pregnancy classes, on-site ultrasounds, high-risk pregnancy management, and lab work.

The center also provides non-prenatal services, ranging from pap smears, annual examinations, and treatment of sexually transmitted diseases, to menopausal treatment and referrals for mammograms.

From the time you step in the door, patients are greeted by decorative art reminiscent of the islands. For example, the waiting room features artwork of the Taino Indians who were indigenous to most Caribbean islands before Columbus. As one traverses the elongated hallway that leads to five brightly colored exam rooms, watercolors of a rainforest and Old San Juan are examples of artwork that would make one feel at home.

“The Taino Indians were the original inhabitants of Puerto Rico and I felt it was important to bring history, their spirituality, and the blessings to our children for health and well-being,” Smidy said during an interview with Reminder Publications.

On this particular late summer afternoon, Smidy is still recovering from an injury, but that doesn’t stop her from spending a few minutes when she can with patients.

When Smidy isn’t overseeing the day-to-day operations of the office, she is also working with Jeffrey Cunningham, owner of the building, to complete last-minute details of the new space.

“It was a long path to get here and now we couldn’t be happier” Smidy said.

The center primarily serves the Hispanic community and Smidy sees on average 300 to 400 patients monthly for obstetrical and/or gynecological visits.

During a recent open house, Dan Moen, president and CEO of the Sisters of Providence Health System (SPHS), noted, “We are taking care of patients and we are taking care of the community. This is a place to provide a level of care that is second to none.”

Smidy echoed those sentiments.

“This is all about hope for moms and kids and pulling together as a community,” she said, adding that one of the most important goals is to help women have healthy babies.

Smidy noted that since her patients see a high rate of domestic violence, homelessness, teen pregnancy and drug addiction, a perinatal addiction counselor is also on staff.

“We want them to come to their appointments," Smidy said. “We want to make sure patients have healthy outcomes.”

A national program that Smidy touts is called Baby Basics. The center was the first in Western Massachusetts to incorporate the program into its service offerings.

Smidy explained that Baby Basics provides women with a helpful book on prenatal care, as well as a planner which also is their medical record.

“The Baby Basics process helps women to keep appointments, have regularly scheduled lab work, and keep all medical information in one place,” Smidy said. “The book is also updated by a clinician at each visit.”

For almost 50 years, the center has served women at several sites including Providence Hospital, as well as offices on Elm Street, Maple Street, High Street, and now Race Street.

“The education and caring attitude we provide at the initial start for the woman is the reason we are here,” Smidy said. “My heart felt thanks to everyone who has helped us.”

In addition to the prenatal center in Holyoke, the SPHS also offers MercyCare Forest Park at 473 Sumner Ave., Springfield. For more information on the Holyoke site, call 536-7385, or 886-0410 for the Forest Park location.

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