Understanding Urogynecological Care

Story by Ann E. Butenas

University Health Women’s Care: Expertly Addressing Essential Pelvic Health Concerns for Women.

Urogynecology. That is a mouthful, but what exactly is it? In short, urogynecology is a sub-specialty within obstetrics and gynecology that primarily focuses on pelvic floor disorders, which include conditions affecting the bladder, pelvic organs, and pelvic muscles. This specialized field seamlessly combines aspects of both gynecology and urology to provide comprehensive care for women experiencing a range of pelvic floor dysfunctions.

Within the walls of University Health (UH), a dedicated team of urogynecologists emerges as an emblem of unwavering commitment to women’s health. This distinguished medical center, praised far and wide for its advanced practices and empathetic care, recognizes the unique and multifaceted challenges that women, especially those navigating through the intricacies of conditions affecting the pelvic floor, face. Therefore, the adept team of urogynecologists plays a pivotal role in safeguarding and enhancing the quality of life for countless women who seek assistance and solutions for their intimate health issues.

Specializing in the complex intersection of gynecology and urology, the urogynecologists’ team at UH attends to a myriad of conditions, such as urinary incontinence, pelvic organ prolapse, and other pelvic floor disorders, with unparalleled expertise and compassion. With an approach that intertwines innovative medical solutions and a gentle, understanding patient care ethos, the team ensures every woman’s journey toward optimal health is supported, dignified, and empowered.

UH has rooted its values in understanding the profound impact that urogynecological health has on a woman’s life, from her day-to-day activities to her overall well-being and self-esteem. With this cognizance, the urogynecologists here don’t just treat conditions, but they also restore confidence, functionality, and enhance the quality of life for their patients.

In the realm of women’s health, where intimate issues are often shrouded with undue shame or hesitancy, the team acts as fervent advocates, ensuring women’s voices are heard, their concerns are validated, and their health needs are met with the utmost proficiency and empathy. The comprehensive care extends from initial consultation through treatment and beyond, ensuring every woman navigating through her health journey feels seen, heard, and meticulously cared for.

The strength of UH undeniably lies in its commitment to facilitating a space where medical excellence and compassionate care converge. It is through the dedicated efforts of specialties like the team of urogynecologists at UH that not only upholds but also advances its mission of providing exemplary care, continually reaffirming its status as a bastion of support and healing in the realm of women’s health. With every patient interaction, they underscore the quintessential role that specialized, empathetic, and expert care plays in transforming lives, thus continuing to fortify the institute’s esteemed reputation in the medical community.

Pioneering Excellence in Women’s Care with University Health’s Leading Team of Urogynecology Experts

Teresa Durkin, PT, DPT and Nia Jenkins, MD

Urogynecologists play a vital role in women’s healthcare, offering tailored treatments and interventions that seek to improve not only physical health but also instill confidence and enhance life quality. Their work is pivotal in ensuring women’s specific and often unique health needs are addressed with precision, empathy, and expertise, contributing to overall health, wellness, and vitality throughout various stages of life.

University Health has a suite of offerings meticulously designed to prioritize and enhance the pelvic health of women from all walks of life. Recognizing that pelvic health is a pivotal yet often neglected aspect of women’s healthcare, the medical experts at University Health strive to demystify and destigmatize the conversations and treatments surrounding pelvic floor disorders. Their pelvic health program is crafted not just as a response to a medical necessity but as a holistic approach towards embracing women’s health and wellness. They help patients navigate through the nuanced journey of understanding, assessing, and treating pelvic health issues, ensuring that practitioners are well-equipped to offer both preventative and rehabilitative care

Dr. Nia Jenkins

Dr. Jenkins’ professional journey through varied prestigious health systems and education has not only broadened her expertise but also sharpened her focus in the realm of urogynecology. For Dr. Jenkins, UH emerged as a beacon due to its unique blend of community spirit and potential for growth, deeply intertwined with a close-knit relationship with the medical school. Here, despite its considerable size, she found a place where each individual is seen and valued, and where she could create a safe haven for addressing often stigmatized concerns with compassion and expertise.

“There is a sense of community and togetherness here,” she reflected. That collective commitment to optimal patient care and advocacy, especially for underrepresented populations, stands out profoundly in her experiences. Further, her collaboration with a pelvic floor physical therapist, which she describes as incredibly motivating, has enriched the treatment options for numerous pelvic floor disorders, underscoring the importance of multi-disciplinary collaboration.

“The collaboration I have with our pelvic floor physical therapist is integral for the treatment of many pelvic floor disorders,” stated Dr. Jenkins.

Navigating through a variety of diagnoses, including Stress and Urge Incontinence, Overactive Bladder, and Pelvic Organ Prolapse, to name a few, Dr. Jenkins notices a distinct layer of complexity in the patient cases at UH, providing a unique challenge and depth to her practice. The multidisciplinary care, adept at handling rare and intricate cases offered by UH, reinforces the center’s capacity to provide comprehensive, expert care, leveraging the collaborative and academically informed expertise of its team to elevate patient outcomes and experiences.

Dr. Kent Burk

Stephanie Hord, LPN and Kent Burk, MD

In 2015, Dr. Kent Burk became a distinguished member of the University Health faculty, specializing as a Urogynecologist. He is board certified in Urogynecology and Reconstructive Female Pelvic Surgery, a specialty that gained recognition in 2011 and achieved official board certification in 2013. At that time, only a limited number of physicians held this credential nationally.

Dr. Burk remarked, “About one in every four women will seek treatment for pelvic disorders during their lifetimes. Given the aging baby boomer demographic, by 2030, we’ll see 30% of all women being over 65.”  As a result, the field is swiftly expanding due to this increasing demand.

Initially, Dr. Burk attended to patients both at UH Women’s Care on the TMC campus and the Lee’s Summit office. As the number of patients quickly expanded, it became imperative to onboard more specialist physicians. Currently, with a team of three dedicated specialists, Dr. Burk exclusively offers his expertise at the Lee’s Summit location. He proudly shared, “Our team has built a strong bond with our ever-growing patient community. Many come to us through word-of-mouth referrals, given the novelty of our specialty.”

Dr. Gary Sutkin

Patient with Gary Sutkin, MD

Dr. Sutkin’s enthusiasm for joining UH stems from the remarkable culture that prevails throughout the institution.

“The leadership at UH has cultivated a culture that places patients at the heart of everything they do,” he noted. “What sets UH apart is its unique patient population, distinct from any other hospital in Kansas City. Many patients at UH come from diverse backgrounds, with some not even speaking English.”

Dr. Sutkin applauds how UH prioritizes care in the patients’ own language by providing translators, demonstrating a deep commitment to culturally competent care. Furthermore, the hospital  pays close attention to addressing health disparities, making it a truly rewarding model of care for Dr. Sutkin.

Kent Burk, MD and Rachel Smith, PT, DPT

“Working alongside dedicated colleagues like Dr. Burk and Dr. Jenkins has deeply impressed me,” he said, further emphasizing these physicians are not only competent but also profoundly compassionate, with the patients’ well-being at the core of their care. Dr. Sutkin believes that collaborating with such professionals makes him a better physician and surgeon.

He further praised the nursing staff at UH for their excellent communication skills and shared commitment to patient-centric care. Moreover, UH’s emphasis on academic medicine aligns with Dr. Sutkin’s passion for research. His active research lab and grant funding enable him to study women’s health, improve surgical outcomes, and investigate team communication. He is grateful that UH has proven to be a willing and supportive partner in these research endeavors, creating a synergy between his research team’s work and clinical care.

Kristi Sola, RN, Samantha Janssen, MD, and Gary Sutkin, MD

Further, Dr. Sutkin appreciates UH as an academic medical center, offering distinct advantages for patients.

“They receive care from physicians actively engaged in academic medicine, whether through research or active teaching,” said Dr. Sutkin. “This environment ensures that all healthcare providers stay current with the latest medical literature and treatments, enabling evidence-based medicine and the delivery of the best possible care to patients.”

Dr. Sutkin acknowledges the responsibility he and his colleagues share for providing their patients with optimal care, as all patient’s outcomes are reviewed by his partners, residents, and students. This collective commitment to excellence in patient care and ongoing learning exemplifies the overall essence and spirit of UH.

Physical Therapy for Urinary Incontinence

The trio of Urogynecologists at UH have established robust referral networks with UH’s Pelvic Floor physical therapists. Rachel Smith, based at UH Lakewood Medical Center, collaborates with Dr. Burk to attend to referred patients. Meanwhile, Teresa Durkin works closely with Dr. Jenkins and Dr. Sutkin at the UH TMC campus. Both Smith and Durkin are certified Physical Therapists possessing specialized training in addressing pelvic floor dysfunction.

Physical therapy focuses on the pelvic floor muscles and the surrounding core muscular systems that can influence pelvic pain and incontinence. Initial evaluations measure the strength and functionality of the pelvic floor. Therapeutic interventions may encompass relaxation techniques, biofeedback, massage, and exercises tailored to fortify pelvic muscles. This non-invasive approach yields positive results for over 90% of patients, harmoniously augmenting the physician’s care strategy.

A Patient’s Perspective: Personal Journey to Healing

Milli, patient of Dr. Jenkins and Dr. Burk

Navigating through a series of medical challenges, including the ever-frustrating urinary incontinence, Milli, a warm-hearted 86-year-old, found not only medical care but also genuine support at University Health. Milli’s journey, peppered with various urogynecological issues, has been met with an unwavering spirit and an infectious positivity that’s become her trademark among the healthcare team. Her ability to find humor even in trying circumstances has lightened the ambiance of hospital corridors; she famously laughed, “Never had a UTI in my life! I thought they said DUI!” upon receiving a suspected diagnosis.

Receiving care from Dr. Jenkins and Dr. Burk, Milli often extols the virtues of their patient-centric approach, which prioritizes non-invasive methods before considering surgery. Her sincere appreciation extends not only to these outstanding physicians but to the entirety of the University Health team for their continuous support through each medical hurdle she’s encountered.

Milli’s unwavering trust in University Health goes beyond mere medical expertise. She finds comfort in the meticulously maintained environment and the authentic kindness that permeates the hospital walls. “Everyone here is so nice and caring,” she regularly shares with a genuine smile, reinforcing her staunch belief that no other hospital in town could offer such unparalleled care. Milli’s experience underscores not only her resilient spirit but also highlights the empathetic and adept care that defines University Health.

University Health Urogynecologists: Leading the Way in Women’s Health Excellence

The decision to see a urogynecologist often arises when symptoms become bothersome, or when traditional treatments, provided by general gynecologists or primary care providers, do not alleviate the problem. A urogynecologist is equipped with the specialized knowledge and training to diagnose, manage, and treat pelvic floor disorders comprehensively. Treatments can range from conservative approaches like pelvic floor exercises and lifestyle modifications to surgical interventions.

Urogynecology is a crucial specialty that caters to the specific needs of women with pelvic floor disorders. Any woman experiencing symptoms that impact her daily life or those not adequately managed by general treatments should consider consulting a urogynecologist for specialized care. University Health’s steadfast dedication to women’s health and their relentless pursuit of excellence in urogynecology stand as shining examples of their unwavering commitment to providing the highest standard of care for women’s well-being.