SSM Health Women’s Health

The Power of Presence: Mission in Action

SSM Health continues to be a beacon of hope for women with an exceptional team of doctors, nurses, and caregivers who offer a full spectrum of women’s health services including health education, programmatic support, and resources developed for women of all ages and diverse backgrounds. Foundation efforts support programs such as the MOMS Line, breast care screenings, 3-D mammography and more — all of which make a significant impact on the greater communities we serve.

Below be inspired by some of our patient stories and the exceptional care they received from our caregivers.

Advanced Technology

Shawndolyn Hutchinson was admitted to the Emergency Department at SSM Health St. Louis University Hospital for unusual swelling, severe cramping and tremendous pain in her legs causing her to go into a state of panic. ED members quickly diagnosed Shawndolyn as having life-threatening blood clots in her legs. Due to her serious condition, she was immediately placed in the care of Dr. Keith Pereira, a vascular interventional radiologist who uses minimally invasive procedures to treat blocked arteries in the legs. Shawndolyn also suffered from debilitating uterine fibroids, a condition causing Shawndolyn extreme pain on a daily basis and resulted in her inability to work, making it nearly impossible to pay for health care expenses.

Dr. Pereira is one of the first healthcare professionals in the area to use minimally invasive interventional radiology to treat fibroids. Shawndolyn underwent this treatment under Dr. Pereira’s care at SSM Health St. Louis University Hospital. Because of the exceptional and advanced care provided by Dr. Pereira, Shawndolyn is no longer in excruciating pain, is currently thriving and back to work.

Beyond the call of duty.

Desperate, alone and homeless, Quaneedra was 36 weeks pregnant when she visited the SSM Health DePaul Hospital OB Care Center for the first time. Although Quaneedra was in her final trimester and had just recently weened herself off drugs, Chantal was not receiving the proper care for her addiction. First, the team took the necessary steps in providing the proper health care services to Quandeedra and her unborn baby. Once Quaneedra reached stabilization, the OB Care Center team went above the call of duty and found a recovery home for Quaneedra and her baby.     

The OB Care Center Team has been a source of hope and healing for Quaneedra every step of the way – providing compassionate and expert health care, finding community resources, helping with food and shelter, and encouraging her to focus on her relationship with her child.

“I stayed with the OB Care Center because the people there really care about me. For the first time, I feel like I have the support in my life to keep going,” says Chantal.

Simulation saves lives.

Ashley arrived at the SSM Health St. Clare Family Birth Place as a low risk patient to have labor induced at 40 weeks/term. This birth would be her second child — another daughter would be joining their soon-to-be family of four. Although Ashley delivered a healthy baby, Ashley was rushed to the operating room (OR) for a serious hemorrhage. Although the necessary steps were taken to stop the bleeding, it became apparent the bleeding was not completely controlled. Ashley was losing too much blood too fast. The situation became a matter of life or death. If the right decisions weren’t made, the care team knew they would lose Ashley. Coincidentally, the care team had just completed the Obstetrical Emergency hemorrhage simulation just a week before and immediately went into implementing a new Massive Transfusion Protocol. Emergent surgery was performed and the team, through complex, highly coordinated care, controlled the bleeding. The SSM Health’s St. Clare team was able to keep Ashley stable long enough through the expedited delivery of blood products and the massive blood transfusions so that she could tolerate a major surgery without going into cardiovascular collapse/arrest.

Ashley had lost a total of 6 liters of blood. 

Ashley received a total of 6 liters of IV fluids and 20 units of blood products.

Ashley’s life was saved.

Due to the expert simulation training and highly coordinated care, Ashley walked out of SSM Health St. Clare Hospital as a new mom, as a healthy mom, and with a healthy baby girl.

A loving team.

In September a request was made to transfer an infant born at 28 weeks from SSM Health St. Mary’s Hospital to the special care nursery at SSM Health St. Joseph Hospital in Lake St. Louis. The baby’s parents live over an hour away from St. Mary’s and traveling to and from was causing tremendous stress in the family. The tiny infant named Baby Jack, was transferred and spent three additional weeks being cared for and growing in the nursery. Every day, a member of the family would take turns ensuring they were present for feedings and spending quality time all the while building a relationship with the care team. Ten days later the parents were suddenly alerted to an alarm sent home with Baby Jack — he was not breathing. Rushed to the emergency room, Baby Jack was met by the same special care nursery staff. The staff worked diligently to resuscitate Baby Jack in an emergent situation. Though their determined and loving expertise, he was stabilized and discharged home after recovery. The family was so appreciative to have the same care team they trusted and credit them for saving Baby Jack’s life. The special nursey team was so thankful they could again make a difference in this family.

Volunteerism matters.

Sheri, a newly diagnosed patient at SSM Health St. Joseph Hospital – St. Charles, was faced with many upcoming weeks of chemotherapy and radiation treatments. As a single mother, Sheri had few options regarding care for her 8-year-old son, Sam. Forced to bring her son with her to treatment at the SSM Health Cancer Care on Kisker Road in St. Charles County, Sheri struggled with feelings of guilt and inadequacy in being a good mom to her young child. For six weeks, Sheri came to the SSM Health Cancer Care Center for chemotherapy with Sam by her side. While SSM Health treated Sheri, Teri, an Auxiliary Volunteer, took Sam aside to help him with his math homework. Sheri, now a cancer survivor, returned to SSM Health St. Joseph Cancer Center with her son Sam – not for chemotherapy or a doctor’s appointment – but to see Teri. Sam proudly stood in front of Teri reciting the times tables backwards and forwards. Sheri not only completed her cancer care treatment, she walked away with the peace of mind her son had also been taken care of during her chemotherapy treatments. Teri is a board member for the SSM Health St. Joseph Auxiliary and volunteers as much as possible.

Surviving cancer through connection.

“The spirit of Ms. Catherine Hamilton is remarkable. Radiant with an aura of joy and positivity, Ms. C.H. as we loving call her, is a cancer patient who takes care of herself physically and spiritually. During a clinic visit, Ms. C.H. was not her usual self. She had recently lost her job as a massage therapist because she could not work with ongoing chemotherapy. Ms. C.H. was feeling loss of what she loved and experiencing the extreme difficulty of keeping up with finances. She was experiencing a clinical depression and although I offered her help in the form of medication, she declined and responded, ‘If I could just work.

Eventually I called her and asked if she could come to the hospital and give me a massage. We set up an appointment and I experienced her healing touch. At Ms. C.H.’s next visit, she shared that having the experience to return to work again along with her spiritual connection helped her overcome the depression. Ms. C.H. reminded me that connection is as important as the science. We definitely helped each other that day.”

                                                                                                ~ Dr. Sunda Abass

SSM Health St. Mary’s Hospital – St. Louis houses an Internal Medicine Residency Program approved by the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education. Through the SSM Health St. Mary’s Internal Medicine Clinic, top doctors are recruited and work under direct supervision of a dedicated clinic faculty member throughout their residency. This clinic offers primary health care services to patients who are under insured or uninsured. Individuals who might go without preventative health care can receive it here with little or no co-payment.  Currently through this clinic, over 800 patients receive proactive care so they can lead healthier lives. Dr. Sunda Abbas is a resident who works with Catherine to manage Catherine’s fight against cancer.

Rosetta Boyce Kyles with her son Cedric the Entertainer at the Inaugural Cedric and Friends Gala 2014

A single mother of two successful grown children, a teacher of more than 30 years, a hard-working, faith-loving woman, Rosetta Boyce Kyles was determined and steadfast in her fight to battle cancer.

Rosetta Boyce Kyles was everything but a cancer patient. Although her cancer journey included several surgeries, extensive rounds of chemotherapy and radiation, and plus excruciating pain, her positive outlook on life and putting others before herself – even while fighting cancer – was a testament to her strength and resolve. 

“Although her body was weak, her faith was stronger. She knew God was in control. So, despite the pain and the physical demands of chemotherapy, she fought without flinching and moved forward with a purpose in her fight to beat cancer,” said Rosetta’s daughter, Sharita Kyles Wilson.

In 2009, when her cancer journey began, it was Francisco Xynos, MD, at SSM Health St. Mary’s Hospital, who spent many hours answering questions and treating Rosetta with exceptional care. He ended every visit by asking the Kyles’ if they had questions. Dr. Xynos was detailed in his follow-through and instilled a level of trust that is important to any family experiencing cancer. During a time when the Kyles’ experienced the uncertainties of cancer, it was the SSM Health Mission – “Through our exceptional health care services, we reveal the healing presence of God,” that became a comfort and cornerstone for the Kyles family.

During her 30 years of teaching elementary education, Rosetta accumulated more than 300 sick days, but she never missed a day of work. Her commitment to education, as well as to her students, was a testament to the values evidenced in her life’s work. Rosetta lost her battle on Monday, June 1, 2015, and remains an inspiration to all. In 2016, the hospital’s commitment to providing a specialized health care facility for women and families became more visible to the community with the dedication of the Rosetta Boyce Kyles Women’s Pavilion at SSM Health St. Mary’s Hospital. In 2017, an education center was also named in her honor. It is her example, her hard work ethic, and her belief in the healing power of God that is at the heart of Rosetta Boyce Kyles Women’s Health Services.  

Lamentations 3:21-24