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A gynecologist's office will probably never be considered the adult equivalent of Disneyland. It's not really the happiest place on earth to visit. But Aaron and Victoria Kromhout firmly believe that the experience can be a positive one, through offering alternative women's healthcare in a welcoming environment with providers who listen to patients' needs. For years, the Kromhouts talked about opening their own women's health center, and on July 1 their dream came to fruition when Creating Harmony Women's Healthcare opened for business.

HEALTHY HARMONY:  (Left to right) Nurse practitioner Kathi Fennelly, board-certified OB/GYN Aaron Kromhout, and office manager Victoria Kromhout want to focus on womens health as a whole not just view their patients as a set of reproductive organs. - PHOTO BY JESSE ACOSTA
  • PHOTO BY JESSE ACOSTA
  • HEALTHY HARMONY: (Left to right) Nurse practitioner Kathi Fennelly, board-certified OB/GYN Aaron Kromhout, and office manager Victoria Kromhout want to focus on womens health as a whole not just view their patients as a set of reproductive organs.

# In addition to traditional obstetric and gynecological care, the center offers midwifery care, contraceptive counseling, menopausal counseling, bio-identical hormone treatment, and massage and chiropractic care. Aaron is a board-certified OB/GYN, and the center also boasts three midwives, nurse practitioner Kathi Fennelly, and a massage therapist. Aaron carefully selected each member of his healthcare team, citing the significance of receiving medical care from someone knowledgeable and friendly. This business' alternative status doesn't lie solely in the fact that it offers alternative procedures the attitude with which the healthcare experts address their patients is not quite mainstream, either.

"I think our main distinction is we are interested in focusing on the woman as a whole, instead of a set of reproductive organs," Aaron explained.

This means that the center's providers pay attention to their patients' overall lifestyles, including diet and exercise.

"One of the things we do better than anybody is we take the time to listen," Fennelly added.

Such an attention to adequately addressing patients' needs also requires a comfortable environment. The Kromhouts worked to establish a tranquil space that would reflect the business' goal of "creating harmony."

For women seeking alternatives to certain procedures, Creating Harmony Women's Healthcare offers non-surgical or minimally invasive surgical alternatives to hysterectomies, contraceptive counseling, and infertility counseling and treatment. Aaron believes that surgery is a significant source of income for many members of the healthcare field, and though many patients may need it, he's reluctant to turn to surgery as the first course of action.

"I frequently get patients referred to me for surgery, and I end up finding alternatives," he explained.

Creating Harmony Women's Healthcare also has an extensive referral system for patients seeking psychotherapy, naturopathy, physical therapy, and acupuncture.

Additionally, Fennelly is one of the few healthcare providers on the Central Coast offering bio-identical hormone therapy, a form of hormone treatment for women going through menopause. Though the practice has been around since the 1970s, few healthcare providers offer it, in part because it's not a patented treatment so no business has a financial stake in its use. Fennelly, however, believes that it's an important alternative to other treatments because it offers an individualized approach to hormone replacement. Each woman can receive care specifically designed to suit her needs.

"When a woman's hormones aren't balanced, it's a quality of life issue," she explained.

Fennelly will offer a seminar titled "Menopause and Bio-identical Hormone Replacement" on Sept. 16 at 11 a.m. and Sept. 26 at 7:30 p.m. These seminars will address symptoms that Bio-identical Hormone Replacement (BHRT) can treat, the difference between hormone replacement therapy and BHRT, and the safety of BHRT, among other issues. The seminars are limited to five people and cost $25.

Creating Harmony Women's Healthcare is also offering the HPV vaccine, which was recently approved as a method of preventing cervical cancer. Aaron hopes to expand the center's list of services and is open to suggestions regarding community healthcare needs.

Creating Harmony Women's Healthcare is located at 1941 Johnson Ave., suite 202. For more information or to register for the "Menopause and Bio-identical Hormone Replacement" seminar, call 548-0033.

Arts Editor Ashley Schwellenbach compiled this week's Strokes and Plugs. Send your business news to kvelie@newtimesslo.com.

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