Bleeding disorders in women and young girls can affect every-day life – from missed days at work to missed time in the classroom. But, often, the disorders go undiagnosed. A new clinic in Buffalo’s Delaware District is working to change that.
On the third Friday of each month, Hematologist Dr. Shilpa Jain meets with small groups of women and young girls. They come to see her and Gynecologist Dr. Shaveta Malik at the Specialized Hematology Experts Clinic – S.H.E. Clinic for short. Together, the two help diagnose and treat bleeding disorders.
“The idea of the clinic is that you’re getting multidisciplinary, or comprehensive care by both the experts,” explained Jain.
While the two doctors’ specialties exist separately in other practices around the country, the S.H.E. Clinic is one of only eight that brings the two together.
“It was never thought of to be important for women and girls,” said Jane. “Secondly, it’s rare because the expertise involved or the knowledge and awareness required was lacking.”
Jain hopes that through the work of national organizations and exposure to clinics like hers, more medical professionals will overcome the misconception that only men are carriers of bleeding disorders.
“Traditionally, everybody knows about hemophilia, which only runs in males,” said Jane. “It’s only now coming to the forefront that women could also be carriers for the hemophilia gene and can have issues with bleeding.”
The list of signs and symptoms that medical providers, family members, and patients should be on the lookout for is lengthy. It covers a broad spectrum from frequent and lengthy nosebleeds to heavy menstrual bleeding.
Jane also hopes physicians will begin to understand that treatment of women is not a simple case of “one visit and you’re done.”
“Women bleed,” said Jane. “They bleed during the start of their periods. They can bleed during pregnancy, during childbirth, with miscarriages. So educating the providers that it’s not one visit – it’s a lifetime for these women.”
The S.H.E. Clinic offers varying treatments depending on the individual needs of its patients, which can include girls as young as 10 or 12 to women in their mid-30s. As part of the Hemophilia Center of Western New York, the clinic offers rapid testing for its patients. Jain claimed it has the most state-of-the-art blood screening lab in the Buffalo area. While screenings sent to outside facilities for testing can take, on average, up to ten days to bear results, the lab inside the Hemophilia Center can turn around a diagnosis in one hour.
The overall goal of the S.H.E. Clinic is to improve the quality of life for patients. Through her own efforts reaching out to physicians who see patients on a broader scale, Jain hopes the numbers of females with misdiagnosed bleeding disorders will shrink and the numbers of patients she sees at the SHE Clinic will grow.