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November 4, 2015

Susan Griggs, RN, CNM photoHow do you see your role as a midwife at a baby’s birth?
The term ‘midwife’ means “with woman,” so the main objective of a midwife is that they really support women during this task they have at hand. I like to make it the best experience I can, because I always think of every birth as if this is the only birth this woman will ever experience, or it’s their last one. I want it to be the best experience possible, while empowering the woman, allowing her to get what she needs to make the best it can be, because each birth is so special.

Susan Griggs photoWhat drew you to a career in midwifery and what do you enjoy most about your job?
I started my career as a nurse, including working in the ICU at Emory Hospital. Then, I began working at an outpatient facility in Atlanta, and we started to get more and more obstetrical patients. During my time there, I met a woman named Ellen Martin, who was a midwife. During my first pregnancy, Ellen was my midwife. I also started helping with obstetrical education and history for the group for that same office, and had another baby. After the second pregnancy that Ellen helped me with, she suggested I go into the midwifery profession. I looked at her like, “You gotta be kidding me.”

But Ellen had an insight into me because she knew me so well. After all, we had been working together and she also helped me through both of my pregnancies. So, I applied and was terrified when I was accepted to Emory’s graduate program. This made it real. But I had a fabulous program at Emory, and I remained working alongside Ellen for five years after I graduated. That group of doctors I worked with was a wonderful bunch. We really bonded, and still see each other every year.

What I really love about my job is when I see patients for their annual check-ups. They pull out their phones and I get to see pictures of their children. I get to see how the babies have grown and I feel really bonded with them.

How many babies have you delivered during your time at Cherokee Women’s? Susan Griggs, RN, CNM
I’ve delivered over 800 babies with Cherokee Women’s as of October 22, 2015 and have assisted with about 300 C-sections. Of the C-section births, Susan said, “This is an opportunity to see what the doctors are all about. I have such respect for the doctors I work with, they’re just awesome. They value me and my opinion, which I think is great, and of course, I value them. That’s why our relationship works so well.”

One of the questions I am often asked by patients is, “Do you do home births?” The easy is answer no.

Susan Griggs, RN, CNMDo you have a philosophy about life or medicine?
Midwives are committed to providing ethical, individualized, evidence-based care that focuses on the normalcy of events like pregnancy and childbirth. My goal is to educate patients and to help them understand what’s happening to their bodies while providing them with everything they need with the least amount of intervention as possible. I want every birth to be the best it can be.

Anything else we should know about you?

Susan and her husband have two beautiful daughters. One daughter is single and lives here in Atlanta, and the other is married in Denver and is an environmental scientist for Denver Water. Susan also has a beagle-hound mix named Fiona who loves to walk with her on their four acres at home. Susan Griggs, RN, CNM photo

Fun Facts

• Susan’s been a volunteer usher at The Fox Theater for over 12 years. She’s volunteered for all kinds of shows. Susan says it’s time-consuming but fun, because she really enjoys music and theater. She also goes to the symphony every year.

• At Cherokee Women’s, Susan serves as a clinical preceptor for students from the Midwifery and Family Nurse Practitioner graduate programs of Emory University, Frontier Nursing University, The University of Alabama and Kennesaw State University.

• Susan likes to travel. She plays piano and she says it’s a good release for her, although she claims she’s no expert. Susan also does pottery on the wheel and is a seamstress.

by Michael Litrel, MD, FACOG, FPMRS

Dr. Litrel photo

Dr. Litrel

My doctor partners and I take turns being on call for the holidays.  Two years ago, my turn fell on Thanksgiving, and as I looked across the table at my loved ones and listened to their loud and animated conversation, I remember noticing they all seemed to be in various states of inebriation. I began to wish the hospital would call me.

Nothing is more annoying than being the only sober one at the dinner table.

Especially when you paid for all the wine.

I realized there were three ways to handle my unhappiness.

One, I could make sure I wasn’t on call the following year so I could join in the frivolity.

Two, I could cultivate new friends and family who were less inclined to intoxicate themselves at holiday meals.

Or three, I could view this moment of unhappiness as a spiritual lesson and walk more strongly the path of Love.

The decision was easy. I decided not to be on call again.

Holidays are stressful, but particularly so for women. Women are more aware of the subtleties of celebration. They put effort into aesthetic touches that would never dawn on a man. The intention, I believe, is to manifest beauty.

But sometimes the result is marital conflict.

Every Thanksgiving, Ann makes six dozen homemade crackers called “Cheddar Crisps” that come in three flavors: cracked blacked pepper, caraway seed, and something called nigella seed.  Ann carefully sequesters her crackers in a tin box to be doled out at the right moment.

Every guest is given three crackers just after saying grace, one of each flavor – and a bowl of butternut squash soup.  It’s such a big deal to Ann that you handle each cracker like Grandma’s antique tea cup.  Unfortunately, I am more a Ritz cracker kind of guy, accustomed to shoveling large quantities into my mouth until I am full. So for me this homemade cracker stuff is holiday stress.

How do I express genuine appreciation for the work my wife has put into this pre-Thanksgiving snack, without conveying my true thoughts?

Stop wasting so much time already – they’re just crackers!

Instead, I channel Effete Cracker Connoisseur, solemnly critiquing the subtleties of each flavor and commenting about how the steam from the soup opens up the palate so one can fully appreciate the differences. But truthfully, I just wanted Ann to stop making them.

Last year I got my wish. I was not on call, and no homemade crackers were to be found!

But I noticed a few things.

Free to imbibe a glass of wine, I found I did not want any, but instead chose sparkling water.

And the sodden idiots inclined to boorish conversation I remembered from the year before were actually beautiful people I am so very blessed to have in my life.

But what surprised me most was that I actually missed Ann’s homemade crackers.

It’s not always easy for a man to appreciate the attention to detail an effortful woman brings into her family’s life. Sometimes what she does seems frivolous – and God knows, sometimes it’s expensive. But there is a reason for a woman’s efforts, and this I understand – as a father, as a husband of twenty-eight years, and also as a physician who has listened to women carefully over the years.

A woman gives life to her children, brings beauty to her home, and creates ties in her community.  A woman makes life more beautiful for us men –

Whether we want her to or not.

November 2, 2015
Dr. Gandhi photo

Dr. Gandhi

Since the 2008 FDA Public Health Notification regarding use of transvaginal mesh for use in pelvic organ prolapse repair, there has been much controversy. Pelvic organ prolapse (POP) is a gynecologic condition that affects nearly a third of middle-aged women. POP is essentially weakness of the muscles that hold the pelvic organs in place, causing a bulge to be felt by the patient. I often describe it to patients as a sort of “vaginal hernia.” Symptoms include pelvic pressure, incontinence, and may affect sexual activity.  The reason why the use of synthetic mesh or biologic grafts came about is that in some women, their own tissue was not strong enough to uphold the repair.

Addressing Patient Concerns – Specialized Training Makes a Difference
I discuss with my patients both non-surgical and surgical options. When discussing the surgical options, I often hear patients say, “you are not going to use that ‘mesh’ in me, are you? I see it all over the TV, these lawyers say it’s dangerous.”

As a surgeon specializing in female pelvic medicine and reconstructive surgery (FPMRS), it is paramount that my communication includes a discussion of the indications, risks and potential benefits of any POP procedure. As FPMRS board certified physicians, Drs. Litrel, Haley and I have specialized training and education regarding POP repair with use of mesh. Pelvic floor surgeons trained in the use of these devices and that have properly counseled their patient on potential risks, have low complication rates. Patients need to know this important fact.

Individualized Treatment Plans Tailored To You
Individualized patient-centered  treatment plans are the key to limiting potential complications. When patients come for a consultation, there are three key elements to the visit: 1) discussion of the symptoms, 2) complete physical exam, and the 3) comprehensive treatment plan. Detailing the symptoms most distressing to the patient is important in tailoring a plan of care to meet her expectations. A complete physical exam helps to delineate the source of the pelvic floor weaknesses.  Lastly, the treatment plan should include not only the correct surgical procedure for the patient, but also an outline of how to avoid future recurrence of the prolapse. This includes discussing pursuing an overall healthy lifestyle (i.e. healthy diet, smoking cessation, routine exercise).

So the verdict?
I want patients to know that their specific prolapse needs can be met by a variety of surgical techniques, including mesh as one of them. When properly placed by a board certified urogynecologist and pelvic reconstructive surgeon, the complication rates are low. Empowering my patients with knowledge assures their eventual satisfaction with their final decision.

To schedule your GYN appointment or surgical consult, call 770.720.7733.

 

 

 

 

October 14, 2015

Dr. Haley's photo

Dr. Jim Haley has just finished a morning performing surgeries in the O.R., and is headed into a full afternoon schedule of patients. Chatting as the interview begins, he mentions that when the weekend comes, he’ll be participating in his first Obstacle Race – a run in which he will face mud pits, barb wire, and ice baths.

“I guess I’ve always been drawn to action,” Dr. Haley smiles, “life and death drama. From the time I was 13 or 14, it seemed to me I was supposed to be a doctor. I figured maybe surgery or E.R. medicine. But when I got to medical school and delivered my first baby, I knew right then I wanted to be an obstetrician.

“I don’t remember this, but after that first delivery, my wife Lisa tells the story of me coming home just laughing off and on all night – because it was SO COOL. I’d never experienced anything like that before!

“I’m drawn to challenges. There’s a lot of challenges to being an obstetrician – the training, being on call, the long hours, and dealing with such an important part of peoples’ lives. But it seems like the challenges drive me in life – physical challenges, too.

Dr. Haley's photo“Over the years I’ve been in 7 marathons, 1 ultra marathon, 15 triathlons, and 1 Iron Man. (An Iron Man is a Triathlon in which the participant swims 2.4 miles, runs 26, and bikes 112.)

Recently, Dr. Haley also became one of the select number of Georgia OB/GYN’s to be board-certified in the subspecialty of FPMRS, Female Pelvic Medicine and Reconstructive Surgery. He says simply, “I like to go after things that are hard to do.”Dr. Haley's photo

What experiences have shaped you as a doctor?
“One great memory about being an OB was getting to deliver my two children. And it made me laugh, too. I’d delivered lots of babies and watched them being taken to the nursery afterward. But I noticed that this delivery was different: they weren’t taking this one away. They were leaving him in the room. And I had to laugh when I realized that was because he was mine.

Dr. Haley's family photo“But something that had a big impact on me was that Lisa and I had two miscarriages – I think this was God’s way of helping me be empathetic about the pain my patients feel when they lose a baby.”

Do you have a philosophy about practicing medicine?
Dr. Haley mentions his faith directly and without self-consciousness. “I think of being a doctor as my calling. I love the Lord, I love my family, I love my wife Lisa. As a Christian, we are called to serve and help others – this is the calling God has designated for me, and how I can do that.”Dr. Haley's photo

Click here to learn more about Dr. Haley, and to watch his interview.

FUN FACTS about Dr. Haley

Top Doctor
Dr. Haley was named “Patient’s Pick Top Doctor” for favorite Gynecologist in Cobb County by Atlanta Magazine in 2012.

Iron Man
Dr. Haley’s done 7 marathons, 1 ultra marathon, 15 triathlons, and 1 Iron Man. (Swim 2.4 miles, run 26 miles, bike 112 miles.)

2New Orleans Boy
Dr. Haley lived in New Orleans for 22 years before becoming a Georgian, with two brothers still there. During Hurricane Katrina, Dr. Haley’s mother, age 91, came to live in Rome, Georgia – and is still there!

September 22, 2015

by Dr. Michael Litrel, FACOG, FPMRS

Dr. Michael Litrel PhotoOur Vaginal Rejuvenation patients continue to be extremely happy with their results, whether they’ve received their surgery in the hospital or as an in-office procedure.

Patient Testimonial
“Dr. Litrel performed my vaginoplasty and he’s simply amazing! I feel absolutely wonderful and have done nothing but brag about him and his staff. I highly recommend your office. I was expecting more pain and downtime but I feel great! I sit at a desk all day and I’m going to work today. No pain meds for 24 hours. I had contacted another doctor’s office in your area prior to contacting you. I received your email response right away and it just felt right! From the time I first got in contact with your office, things fell into place and went so smoothly! I’ve never experienced this kind of excellent service at any doctor’s office I’ve ever been to. I was treated with such amazing courtesy and respect. I could not be happier with the care I received.” Juana L.

With all the discussions surrounding vaginal rejuvenation, many women considering the procedure may still find themselves with questions about it. This is completely normal, as vaginal rejuvenation is surgery, and should be treated as such. Here’s a look at three of the most common questions patients ask about the vaginal rejuvenation procedure.

Am I a Good Candidate?
Following vaginal births, women lose the strength and elasticity in the vaginal and perinatal area. These post-delivery complications can include urinary incontinence, pelvic or rectal prolapse, or loosened elasticity of the labia (the inner and outer vaginal lips) that may cause discomfort during physical activities. All of the above complications can benefit from the repairing and tightening of the vaginal tissue.

How Should I Prepare?
If you’ve made the decision that vaginal rejuvenation surgery is something you want to have done, the most important thing you can do for yourself is to do your research. Find a specialist who is trained in Female Pelvic Reconstructive surgery, not just a plastic surgeon who claims they can perform the procedure to make sex more enjoyable.

At your pre-surgery consultation, be ready with questions. Ask your surgeon about how long the surgery will last, what types of incisions will be performed, and if your surgery is considered a medically necessary procedure, find out about what insurance will and won’t cover.

What Can I Expect Post-Surgery?
The first 24-48 hours, patients can use ice packs to reduce the swelling. Routine everyday activity is permitted, and wearing loose clothing is highly recommended. You will be able to resume showering after the surgery, but use a soft washcloth and be careful not to scrub the incision areas. You will also need to avoid baths, pools, and hot tubs for four weeks post-surgery. Most patients can return to work after a week, unless the nature of your work involves strenuous activity.

For most women, the $10,000 question after having vaginal rejuvenation surgery is “When can I have intercourse again?” This, of course, is dependent on the procedure and how well you take care of yourself afterwards. Most patients can resume intercourse within 8 weeks depending upon the complexity of their surgery.

To schedule a consultation about vaginal rejuvenation surgery, please call our female representative on her private and confidential line at 770-720-7733 ext. 2232, or contact us here.

September 8, 2015

Chief Ultrasonographer Brenda Peters

Seeing the Mother-Baby Story

Brenda Peters is our Chief Ultrasonographer here at Cherokee Women’s Health. We sat down and asked her a few questions to learn more about her and why she chose this profession.

Question: What led you to become an ultrasonographer?

Brenda:  I come from a really big blended family – seven sisters and four brothers! When I got out of high school, I joined the Air Force so the GI bill could pay for my college. I’ve always been a math and science geek, so my work in the Air Force was electrical instrumentation, using transducers and acquiring data.

But I was lonely! I realized I’m really a people person, too. I saw that becoming an ultrasonographer would give me a chance to combine my technical side with helping people every day.

Question: What is your typical work day?

Brenda: A lot of women are pretty scared and nervous when they come in. I try to make it easy for them to be here. I pay a lot of attention to what I say, and how I say it – because that becomes part of their experience and their memories.  I LOVE our patients – when the moms come in for child #2, #3, we really have a relationship. For one of our patients, I‘ve done the ultrasounds for all FIVE of her children. I realized after I was here a few years and people started telling me their stories, that I was a part of their story, too. That is the special part of this job. I love it.

chief ultrasonographer brenda peters

Question: Do you have a motherhood story, too?

Brenda: You know, I didn’t come to parenthood the usual way. When I began working at Cherokee Women’s, I had been on a rough road for many years, trying to become a mother. Then RIGHT after I came, I found out I could adopt Samantha. Her birth mother was 20 weeks pregnant. It’s like the practice had hired a pregnant woman. I’ll never forget how kind everyone was to me, even throwing me a shower when I went out on maternity leave.

This was a really important experience coming here. I think part of my work is giving our patients hope. I like to tell them my story. I say, “If you’re determined to be a mom, you will find a way.”

Note: Under Brenda’s leadership, Cherokee Women’s has earned a spot on the select list of practices fully accredited by the American Institute of Ultrasound in Medicine for Obstetric and Gynecologic ultrasound. Brenda graduated from Rochester Institute of Technology in Rochester, New York with a Bachelor of Science degree from the Diagnostic Medical Sonography program with High Honors in 2000. Brenda is also certified in Nuchal Translucencey and is registered in OB/GYN by ARDMS (American Registry for Diagnostic Medical Sonography).

FUN FACTS about Brenda

Air Force Technician, Warm and Fuzzy
Brenda became an instrumentation tech with the Air Force – where she figured out she didn’t want to work just with technology!  She has a people side, too: afterward, Brenda earned her BS in Ultrasonography.

Seven Sisters and the Hubble Telescope Connection
Brenda comes from a family of 7 girls and 4 boys – all math and science types! “Five of my sisters are in nursing, and one is an accountant. We like science,” Brenda says. As a matter of fact, her father was the engineer for the mirror glass on the Hubble Telescope!

chief ultrasonographer brenda petersRoughing It – On a Mountain Bike!
On weekends, Brenda gets muddy with her daughter Samantha on the Blankets Creek Mountain Bike Trail!

 

August 20, 2015

by Peahen Gandhi, MD, FACOG, FPMRS

Your Mission, Should You Choose to Accept It, Is To Recover ‘That’ Sensation.
As a gynecologist, my mission is to manage the entire spectrum of women’s health issues. Including…that, ummm, embarrassing topic of sexual functional concerns. Patients trust me enough to discuss even the most intimate of topics. It doesn’t hurt that I too, am a woman, able to understand both the physical and emotional elements of this sensitive subject.

In an abstract published by the International Continence Society, 48% of women reported concerns regarding “looseness of the vagina.” The medical term for this symptom is Vaginal Laxity Syndrome or “VLS.” Often women say to me, “things are different ‘down there.’ I mean, I think things are ‘loose.’ Is that why sex is not the same?”

Symptoms of Vaginal Laxity Syndrome
VLS most often occurs as a result of childbirth (in vaginal births), but also occurs as women age due to decreased levels of collagen. Almost 50 to 75% of women experience significant vaginal laxity after menopause due to a loss of estrogen’s protective effect on the vaginal muscles.

Symptoms of Vaginal Laxity Syndrome include:
• Decreased sensation during intercourse
• Difficulty holding urine
• Decreased resilience of the vaginal walls. (You can test this at home by trying this quick test: If you are able to insert three or more fingers simultaneously into your vagina without significant resistance of your vaginal walls, chances are you have a loose vagina.)

These symptoms lead to other difficulties, including difficulty achieving orgasm, as well as decreased sexual satisfaction. Many women are embarrassed or scared to discuss this issue with their partners.

Cherokee Women’s Offers Surgical and Non-Surgical Treatments
My physician colleagues and I at Cherokee Women’s Health are able to offer patients non-surgical and surgical options for VLS. We counsel patients first on the importance of leading a healthy lifestyle, such as maintaining a healthy weight, performing pelvic floor exercises like Kegels, and treating vaginal dryness or thinning in postmenopausal women. Once we learn more about your lifestyle and needs, we can recommend a treatment that works best for you.
Surgical and cosmetic procedures are available to restore the strength and resilience of vaginal tissue. They include vaginoplasty, perineoplasty, and labiaplasty. These vaginal rejuvenation procedures should be performed by board certified Female Pelvic Medicine and Reconstructive Surgery physicians (known as FPMRS). Those of us with the training and expertise to perform these procedures counsel patients on the potential risks and benefits. In fact, an article published in The Journal of Sexual Medicine from 2010 suggested that combining multiple female genital cosmetic surgeries improved the success rate up to 91.2% (even in severe cases).

Thermiva, a Less Invasive Alternative Treatment
A procedure called Thermiva offers women a less invasive alternative treatment for VLS. The Thermiva procedure increases sensitivity and strengthens muscular contractions, leading to greater sexual satisfaction for women and their partners. It is also effective in helping reduce vaginal dryness and urinary leakage episodes. The painless, in-office procedure takes twenty minutes to perform and yields immediate results. It works by inducing collagen tissue remodeling and rebuilding at a cellular level. Using radiofrequency thermal energy, Thermiva increases the number and strength of active collagen fibers that are present.

Knowing that there are a number of treatment options available is important because it allows doctors to individualize the care for each patient. Working together, doctors and patients are able to meet the expectations set forth, while reducing potential side effects or long-term complications. If you’re interested in discussing the Thermiva procedure with me or one of our other skilled physicians, please contact our office to schedule an appointment.

August 4, 2015


Dr. Hale talks about what inspired her to become an OB/GYN and what she feels is important in life.

Dr. Hale arrives with a glowing smile for her interview at the bakery Smallcakes, where she orders a gluten-free cupcake. She’s brought a colorful journal, a Whitney English Day Designer, the cover of which says “Life + Business + Creativity.” A glance at the pages reveals Dr. Hale’s closely written thoughts and ideas.

Question: When did you know you wanted to be a doctor? What was your inspiration?
Dr. Hale: My mom tells the story that when I was a young child, I said to her doctor, “When I grow up, I want to be a “obb-ta-trishun.”

I’ve always felt called to be a healer. My life took many turns, but eventually I ended up pursuing a combined MD/MPH (Masters in Public Health) degree at St. George’s University School of Medicine in Grenada, West Indies. I did half my clinical rotations in the United Kingdom and half in the U.S. I particularly enjoyed the U.K. Obstetric rotation where I primarily trained under midwives. I believe that influenced how I approach birth today.

Question: That’s so interesting, because I’ve heard you’re called “a gifted surgeon,” yet you have this streak that takes you into more holistic approaches. What got you started studying plant-based nutrition?
Dr. Hale: It was partly for myself. As a young woman I suffered with horrendous periods. My cycles had been controlled with oral contraceptives, however after getting married I began to research more natural solutions for menstrual health. I had a great deal of success with following a whole food plant-based diet. My experience motivated me to obtain more formal nutrition training to better equip patients to transform their health through diet.

Dr. Hale recently earned a certificate in Plant-Based Nutrition through the T. Colin Campbell Center for Nutrition Studies.

Dr. Hale recently earned a certificate in Plant-Based Nutrition through the T. Colin Campbell Center for Nutrition Studies.

Question: That’s a beautiful journal. What can you tell us about it?
Dr. Hale: This journal is really about working out who you are – what you believe, your values, and how you bring it into your life, day to day. When you’re on purpose, it reflects in the gifts you bring to your work and the people around you. For me, it’s very important that my purpose, my faith, my family, and my work all align. And that I communicate that in my words and actions. “Breathe in love, breathe out life”

An original personal motto Dr. Hale has posted in her office

An original personal motto Dr. Hale has posted in her office

 

Click here to learn more about Dr. Hale’s experience and credentials.

July 29, 2015

by Peahen Gandhi, MD, FACOG, FPMRS


Our approach to Female Pelvic Medicine and Reconstructive Surgery (FPMRS) is three-fold:

1) Restore Function
2) Enhance Appearance
3) Protect Anatomy

This is the treatment approach which guides our clinical procedural offerings. Gynecologists are experts in vulvovaginal surgery and CWHS is at the forefront of the latest techniques used to help patients achieve their pelvic health goals.

Thus, the procedures address these three facets:

1)  We Restore Function by addressing anterior and posterior compartment defects, like cystoceles and rectoceles, by offering anterior and posterior colporrhaphy, as well as full-length vaginoplasty, allowing improved sexual function as well. In addition, many patients have had severe obstetric lacerations, like third or fourth degree tears, and we perform revisions of proctoepisiotomies. Stress urinary incontinence is treated using a single-incision sling procedure.

2)  We Enhance Appearance by removing excess skin of the labia minora and labia majora through labiaplasty procedures, including a number of different techniques, so that we can achieve each patient’s individual cosmetic goals. In addition, we are experts at perineoplasty also called, perineorrhaphy, which aims to make the perineum appear normal by excising excess skin, loose skin tags, and suturing the underlying muscles of the perineal body closer, to give a more snug feeling in the introitus or vaginal opening. Some women are interested in fully restoring pre-coital appearance and we achieve this with an additional procedure called a hymenoplasty.

3)  We Protect Anatomy by offering our patients individualized non-surgical treatments like incision-less office based procedures for vaginal laxity and bioidentical hormone replacement therapy via vaginal and transdermal routes. Following surgery, patients are given nutritional support services through micronutrient testing (Spectrocell) and undergo pelvic physical therapy via our women’s allied health professionals.

Thus, a summary list of procedures:

*Full-length Vaginoplasty to provide a higher level of tightening
*Incision-less office treatment for improving vaginal tone and lubrication
*Labiaplasty
*Labia Majora reduction
*Perineoplasty
*Hymenoplasty
*Proctoepisiotomy revisions
*Anterior and posterior colporrhaphy to treat cystocele and rectoceles (site-specific and augmented repair techniques)
*Single-incision midurethral slings
*Bioidentical hormone replacement/nutritional support/pelvic physical therapy

NOTE: Dr. Peahen Gandhi and her colleagues Dr. Michael Litrel and Dr. James Haley are sub-specialty board certified in Female Pelvic Medicine and Reconstructive Surgery (FPMRS).

 

July 8, 2015

Get to know Dr. Peahen Gandhi, a board-certified OB/GYN physician here at Cherokee Women’s Health, on a more personal level. Read below to learn what inspired her to become a doctor and what she believes is important in life.

gandhi-spotlight-flyer_nletter

What inspired you to become a doctor?
“Of course there’s those heroic stories about Dr. Barnard performing the first successful heart transplant…but the source of my inspiration was more special. I had the example of ambition personified – my late Grandfather. Orphaned when he was just a young boy, he worked without pity on himself. He was engaged always in achievement, not fear of failure. I loved this about him. And I knew I was his favorite. I listened to his stories and he believed in my dreams. It was a symbiotic relationship. No doubts, no uncertainty ever entered our minds when we conversed. I learned from his experience and he inspired me to create my own. His sacrifice, allowing my parents and me to leave him in India and emigrate to the United States, was immense. Every summer when we went back to India after moving to Amanda, Ohio, he would have a “medical gift” for me. One summer it was a stethoscope, another it was a tuning fork. I still have the old copy of Gray’s Anatomy he found for me. I knew he cared. I knew he wanted to keep up the consistent encouragement. For that, I am indebted to him.

Who were your mentors along your medical journey?
“Well, having the calling to become a doctor is just the first step. Getting into the field is another story. You need an advocate who know the ins and outs. You need someone who will encourage you, when you think you can’t possibly make it. Chances seemed slim for a girl from the small town of Amanda, Ohio. Dr. Keith Krantz, the Director of the Hosier Scholarship Program, never saw me that way. To him, I was a real contender. I still remember when I got my first medical school acceptance letter and Dr. Krantz said to me “you got one in the bag, kiddo!” Dr. Krantz then awarded me the Dr. R. S. Hosler Memorial Educational Fund Scholarship. At the time, I think I was the only person from my high school who was awarded the honor. It not only gave me a sense of accomplishment, but the financial support of the scholarship allowed me to realize my dream of becoming a doctor. It has been four years since he passed, and even though I can no longer walk into his office and get my weekly pep-talk, I know he is giving me the “’ol kiddo” smile as I put on my white coat.

Do you have a philosophy about life or medicine?
Mahatma Gandhi said “Simple living, high thinking.” I think it’s important to spend time every day with the people you love. I keep my life simple, in that I focus on family when I’m home. My parents live with my husband and me, and we are surrounded with aunts, uncles, cousins, multiple generations, almost 30 people. We usually just get together at my house a few times a month and play cards and eat great Indian food! I think most people think I am an extrovert, but really I am kind of shy, unless I really know a person.

Fun Facts
~ Dr. Gandhi had a traditional Indian marriage in her father’s home village of Umreth in India. It lasted 10 days!
~ Dr. Gandhi believes in the strength of family: “Surrounding yourself with the people you love makes you a loving person.”
~ A family project – the restaurant Bello Italian in Cumming is owned by Dr. Gandhi’s brother, Paril.
Dr. Gandhi quips, “Most people think my brother has an Indian restaurant but I just laugh and say…actually it’s great rustic Italian food! I feel so fortunate to live in America, where anything is possible.”

 

 

 

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“Dr. Litrel was a fantastic doctor. I had my first exam with him, although at first I was skeptical about a male doctor for my GYN. But after I met him I’m glad I kept an open mind, and I couldn’t have dreamed up a better doctor. He cares about you as a person and not just a patient. The front desk ladies and nurses were very friendly and it’s a great office, very clean and not intimidating. I highly recommend Cherokee Women’s Health.”
– Vicki