Centering Women’s Care

Bringing together medical services



Deborah Hess0001

Over 200 physicians will ultimately serve at the new WH Women’s Center of Excellence, providing women’s health services across a variety of disciplines.

Wilmington Health opened the center on March 22 at two locations – in Mayfaire and Midtown, with a collaborative approach to women’s health. Packaged under an umbrella are services dedicated to women’s health and catering to adult women at all stages of their lives. These services include primary care, obstetrics, gynecology, radiology, pelvic floor and incontinence care, urogynecology, and cardiology.

“We recognized that patients were seeking a women’s health practice that truly packaged all of their health care needs conveniently without having to seek out care at multiple practices across the region,” Wilmington Health spokeswoman DESIRAE HRYNKO says.

The major driving forces to the realization of the WH Women’s Center of Excellence were physicians SANDRA HALL and DEBORAH HESS, who were influential leaders in the planning, and Wilmington Health CEO JEFF JAMES, who kickstarted the initiative.

Hess (above) is the only female fellowship- trained urogynecologist within a 100-mile radius of Wilmington, according to the practice.

Hess, originally from a Boston suburb, and her husband wanted to raise their family in a coastal community and loved Wilmington when they came to interview.

“My father was a gynecologist who loved his career caring for women,” she says. “He influenced my career path, and I am grateful to him for doing so.”

Hess holds degrees in biochemical engineering from Dartmouth College as well as medical and public health with clinical research degrees from the University of Michigan. She did her urology residency at the Harvard Program and then went on to the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center for additional sub-specialty training in female pelvic medicine and reconstructive surgery.

Joining Wilmington Health in 2019, Hess saw larger centers across the country forming multispecialty centers.

“Given that one-third of women have some form of pelvic floor dysfunction including prolapse or incontinence, we felt this was an important component of a women’s center,” Hess says. “It is ideal to offer many closely-related services under one roof.”

The WH Women’s Center of Excellence is also dedicated to clinical research and will conduct ongoing clinical trials related to women’s health.

“Our women’s health division knows how critical it is to consider sex difference in clinical studies,” says Hall, who specializes in obstetrics/gynecology. “We are currently enrolling patients in studies researching new treatments for urinary tract infections, menopausal symptoms, and endometriosis with more in the pipeline.”

The advantages of combining all of these medical services under one center are numerous, the physicians say. Easier communication and collaboration among the health care providers within the practice leads to more efficient results, reporting and diagnoses, and comprehensive treatment plans.

But, these benefits inspire a higher purpose.

“We value the importance of caring for families. The center provides a place where women patients can truly add comfort and convenience in their daily lives,” Hrynko says. “We offer providers that our patients trust with the highest level of care and compassion.”

James says he is already looking toward the future.

“Our valued patients will drive our growth,” he says. “Over the next couple of years, we envision an expansion of radiology services and onboarding more expert providers for women’s health services.

“We understand that our patients desire the most comprehensive approach to health care,” James adds. “Expansion of services combined with expert providers under this umbrella will support that endeavor.”

To view more of photographer Terah Wilson’s work, go to

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Categories: Health