At least one Saturday a month, a women's health clinic on the second floor of Metropolitan Hospital Center is transformed into the “Spa de Salud”, or “health spa” in Spanish, where the tranquil setting of muted colors and herbal teas welcomes women to sit back, relax and take care of their health.
Rather than back massages and cucumber facials, the women at Spa de Salud come for medical exams and services that help them stay healthy from the inside out. Here, they are able to undergo breast exams, mammograms, PAP tests, glucose and hypertension screenings, HIV/AIDS tests, and flu shots.
Spa de Salud is a safe haven where women can talk about all their health concerns to the all-female, bilingual staff. If a woman is the victim of domestic violence, she will get the support of social workers here. If a women has no health insurance, she will be enrolled in low cost or no-cost insurance programs, including HHC Options, which offers fees reduced to an affordable amount based on family size and income. And HHC staff will ensure they get matched with a primary care physician and build a medical home here.
“It’s one-stop shopping in a real spa setting, and it’s very holistic,” said Janet Mintz, Senior Associate Director for Women’s Health at Metropolitan. “And the women don’t have to worry about getting the kids to school or having to make appointments during their limited workweek hours.”
Hospital staff conducted an informal survey of women in the East Harlem community that revealed that 4 out of 5 women prefer to come for their mammograms on Saturday. This month, the spa will open from 8 am to 2 p.m. on the first and second Saturday of the month, in anticipation of Mother’s Day. Mintz said Spa de Salud is supported by a $500,000 grant from the Avon Foundation for breast cancer services and outreach to women who live or worship in the vicinity of Metropolitan Hospital. The first Spa de Salud session in 2007 attracted 11 women; now as many as 70 women turn out each Saturday. Appointments are needed.
“One woman’s blood sugar level was so high that we took her over to the emergency room,” Mintz said. The woman was treated and her glucose level brought under control.
For women who bring along their children, husbands or partners, Spa de Salud offers activities for the kids and screenings for spouses and significant others.
It’s about making sure the women know they have a place to go to take care of their medical needs, Mintz said. “We see this as a portal to Metropolitan Hospital and general health care,” she said.
Spa de Salud is part of the MAS program - Metropolitan Avon Supporting the Safety Net. Women can schedule an appointment by calling MAS @ 212-423-7993.