Hospital opens franchise

Sunday, April 30, 2006

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. - Vicki Briggs has channeled her passion for women's health care into a career. She serves as secretary/treasurer of the Jacobs Institute of Women's Health in Washington, D.C., and as chairwoman of the National Perinatal Information Center in Rhode Island. She co-founded the Council of Women's and Infant's Specialty Hospitals, a group of 10 of the largest women's hospitals in the country that work together to design new programs and initiatives to improve women's health care. In her current position as CEO of Affinity Health System, which operates Montclair Baptist Medical Center in Birmingham, Ala., she will bring that passion directly into the hands of women when she opens one of the first in-hospital Women's Health Boutique franchises. HME News talked to Briggs recently about the franchise.
HME News: What attracted you to the boutique concept?
Vicki Briggs: There's just nothing like it, a retail location that focuses solely on products that women need when they're going through particular health situations. It was an exceptionally warm, competent environment where a woman could go in and feel good about disclosing her particular situation and have experts there to let her know what products are available to help her through whatever she was dealing with. I have seen so many women--whether they've got breast cancer or lymphedema, or they need a maternity belt, or they need compression hose--and they have no idea where to go. Even the doctors don't know what products are available. The boutique also has a very close relationship with physicians and keeping them informed.
HME: How will the boutique mesh with Montclair Baptist Hospital?
Briggs: It's a good fit. We are focused on enhancing our women's health services at Montclair Baptist. We're looking at growing our obstetric services and in addition to the OB piece, we're looking at the total woman and tying in cancer services. We're (also) looking at having an all-female internal medicine group that focuses on women's health care needs beyond the childbearing years.
HME: What does the hospital bring to the table in this venture?
Briggs: Education and services. We're creating an environment that women feel safe going into. Can you imagine going into Macy's and finding somebody there to help with fitting your undergarment with your new prosthesis?
HME: How will the boutique actually work?
Briggs: It's going to operate as a department of the hospital and we are going to hire someone to manage it. The franchise will help us train that person. We can bill insurance and Medicare. We'll get referrals from the physicians and we will market it to the general public. We'll see how it works here first. If it makes a profit great, but it's such a great service for women and their families, so if it simply breaks even that will be enough.