Last October, Susquehanna Health joined a network of more than 80 hospitals across the nation committed to improving women's health.
"Our goal is to motivate and to inspire women to take care of themselves," said Susan Browning, coordinator of outreach programs. "Why do we need to do that? Because research shows they tend to take care of others before themselves. Research shows women make 80 percent of health care decisions in the country. Making them well-informed health consumers is good for everybody."
The program, called Spirit of Women, focuses on a specific health topic monthly and comes with a newsletter.
Karen Vibert-Kennedy/Sun-Gazette Correspondent
Josey Brendle, of Benton, spins niece Tessa Wolfe, 2, during a Zumba class at the Day of Dance presented by Susquehanna Health Spirit of Women program at Williamsport Hospital on April 28.
In February, the month was dedicated to heart disease and cardiovascular health awareness.
"It's the No. 1 killer of women," Browning said. "Not breast cancer. It's heart disease."
Women often do not feel the typical heart attack symptoms as do men, such as chest pain. Therefore, they tend to put off treatment, and more women die because of it.
The program began because, despite heart disease being the No. 1 killer of women, not many were coming for screening and care.
"It became apparent that we need to do a better job communicating with women," Browning said. "With women, if you make it fun ... (they) respond positively and become engaged."
The process is known as "edutainment," which is a part of the Spirit of Women.
"Every month is something special for women," she said.
In April, the program hosted a Day of Dance in Susquehanna Tower, which had demonstrations of fun ways to exercise, such as Zumba, which uses Latin-inspired music to provide a dance fitness program.
Women of all ages, from 20s to 80s and beyond, are invited to join the free program and attend the events because there are particular things to pay attention to in all decades of life.
This month, the focus will be on bone health. On May 22, Dr. Michael Hoffman will speak about an interior approach to hip replacement that is less complicated and invasive.
Last October, for the first month, the focus was on breast cancer. Women discussed cancer and the importance of knowing breast density because denser breasts need ultrasounds.
"A mammogram might not catch it," Browning said.
For the one-year anniversary, the topic will return to cancer but in a broader sense to include skin, ovarian and others.
The national organization offers a recommended calendar but gives its branches total flexibility.
In June, men get a chance to be the focus topic. Instead of the weekend warrior wisdom that the national organization offers, the local program will be about guys' grills and good health. Events include a cookout in the back lawn at Divine Providence Hospital, with a focus on healthy grilling.
"We're trying to make it a little fun," Browning said.
Since its local beginnings, the Spirit of Women has attracted more than 700 women who have joined as registered members.
The membership includes a monthly newsletter, invitation to signature events and rewards from area businesses.
To become a member, visit susquehannahealth.org, click on "Ladies first," then click "join."