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BOULDER — Boulder Valley Women’s Health Center has seen an uptick in calls and services for abortions as of June 24, the day Roe vs. Wade was overturned. 

The next month, Savita Ginde of Northern Colorado took over as CEO and chief medical officer of the Boulder-based nonprofit; she faces a quickly growing organization, embracing the task with more than 18 years of experience as a physician executive. 

“I was looking to find the right place for me that was going to be fulfilling and challenging … and I landed here,” Ginde said, explaining that the challenge is “being able to really position us (in) creating sustainability and relevance for the next 50 years, looking at the past and what we learned from it and envisioning for the future.”

The Women’s Health Center was founded in 1973 just after Roe vs. Wade constitutionally conferred the right to have an abortion. The center, the state’s first abortion clinic, initially focused on abortion services then added a wide range of reproductive and sexual health care services to become an evidence-based community clinic. The services include annual exams, screenings for breast and cervical cancer, birth control and family planning, STI testing, transgender hormone therapy, community health education and a teen clinic. The services are offered at clinics in Boulder and Longmont and via telehealth. 

“We wanted to really meet the needs of our community, being able to go beyond just abortion care with a particular focus on barriers to access for high-quality, comprehensive health services,” Ginde said. 

Barriers can be anything from language to financial and logistical. The Women’s Health Center wants to provide access to those who are low-income or uninsured, monolingual Spanish speakers, youth, LGBTQI persons and people with disabilities.

“Any of those logistics, we have the systems in place and the resources in place to get them the care they need,” Ginde said.

The Women’s Health Center delivers care by considering the needs of the patient first, while also actively seeking ways to continually improve services. 

“It’s really about creating a strong vision and strategy for the future and making sure we have the financial sustainability and making sure we’re available to meet the community’s needs … to the fullest possible extent,” Ginde said.

Over the next year, Ginde plans to strengthen relationships with the center’s community partners, build an adaptable leadership team and a talented, diverse staff, and engage with patients to continue to improve services. 

“We look to improve what we do by actively listening to our community partners and patients,” Ginde said. 

For instance, starting in 2022, the Women’s Health Center invited patients to fill out surveys or meet with staff to provide feedback on the services they received and any challenges they believe need to be addressed. The clinic also invites patients to yearly meetings for more specific feedback on those experiences.

At the organizational level, the center faces several other challenges, including workforce shortages, supply chain issues and wage increases in health care not proportionate to Medicaid and health insurance reimbursements, Ginde said. In the area of workforce shortages, the clinic wants to support a talented workforce while remaining sustainable — this requires creating efficiencies in health care delivery, reducing costs and improving productivity, she said.

After reviewing the organization’s systems, the center launched a patient self-scheduling system on its website, reduced paperwork in favor of electronic forms, added appointment slots and days of service, and focused on its call center to address patient needs through first contact. 

The call center initially handled 50 to 70 calls a week, but after the overturning of Roe vs. Wade, the load increased to 200-plus calls, mainly attributed to inquiries about abortion services. The overturning immediately restricted access to care in nearly half of the states with more restrictions coming on later; Colorado is one of the states where abortions are still available. 

“In the state of Colorado, we’re lucky we can provide them here,” Ginde said.

The Women’s Health Center responded by increasing call center support, doubling staffing from four to eight employees and increasing the total staff to 30. About 50% to 60% of patients receiving abortion services now are coming from out of state. Before, a few would come from Wyoming and the Dakotas, where there wasn’t abortion access.

“I love all of it, the patient care, the strategy and vision-building … the creation of efficiencies, the building of a strong team and culture, and the tackling of challenges and problem-solving, all of it is very fulfilling,” Ginde said.

Susan Saukas, owner and CEO of Clinic Revenue Partners in Golden, said Ginde is bringing a strong and positive energy to her work and to those around her, and she “expects and fosters excellence, lifting others as she rises,” she said.

“She makes it a priority to connect with individuals across the organization regardless of position or title. She works side by side with her team — there is no pomp or circumstance,” Saukas said. “Dr. Ginde is committed to ensuring that reproductive health care and family planning are not considered divisive or controversial services but are accessible as part of standard medical care for those who need and choose them. … Dr. Ginde has her pulse on the entire organization and always keeps patient safety and satisfaction as her north star.”

Alyssa Scharf, RN, BSN, an occupational health nurse at Total Safety in Denver, considers Ginde to be an expert in women’s health from regarding patient care to the inner workings of a health care practice that provides “controversial services such as abortion,” she said. 

“When I met her at Planned Parenthood, she was working to improve several items across the board. She had, and still has, a great ability to access resources that will help execute the more complex items that need revising or to be addressed, everything from best patient outcomes and practices, to safety of staff,” Scharf said. “In these times (since the overturn of Roe vs. Wade), there are many, many women and families that need reliable and safe care. There are also many, many staff and health care workers in the clinics that need to know they are safe at work. Savita will compromise nothing to make sure that needs are not only met, but expectations exceeded.”

Ginde served as a board member at the Women’s Health Center from January 2020 to July 2022 before taking on the center’s leadership position. Of her 18-year-career history, she dedicated 14 years to strategic multi-state health care management, including organizational, project and leadership development, team-building, clinical training, and coaching. 

Ginde’s previous roles include president and CEO of Rocky Mountain Medical Consulting Colorado from 2013 to 2020. She earned a doctor of medicine in 1997, finishing her fellowship training in reproductive health and family planning at the University of Rochester School of Medicine, where she also earned a master of public health in 2003. From there, she worked for Planned Parenthood of the Rocky Mountains for 13 years with her last position as vice president and chief medical officer. She then worked for STRIDE Community Health Center in Denver and Rocky Mountain Health Plans in Grand Junction. 

Next, Ginde joined the board at the Women’s Health Center. During her service, she was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2021 and had a double mastectomy that year and a second related surgery in 2022.

“I definitely had invaluable experiences. I’m the daughter of immigrants in the U.S., a wife, a mother and a breast cancer survivor, which makes me truly prepared,” Ginde said, adding that as a survivor, she became more aware of how difficult it can be to navigate the health care system, especially if any barriers come into play.

“It fuels my drive to make sure everyone has access … it gives you — there are vulnerable populations in our system — insight on everything that is needed, so everyone can stay healthy,” Ginde said. “I’m committed to responsible dignity for all people, making sure there is equitable access and those things fully align with the mission of the organization.” 

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