Top Doctors 2021: Passionate Advocate

Volunteering abroad shapes Dr. Julie LaCombe’s views on women’s health

By Edited and Condensed by Rob Smith

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May 17, 2021

This article originally appeared in the May/June 2021 issue of Seattle Magazine.

Name: Julie LaCombe, M.D.

Practice and Hospital Affiliation: Urogynecology, Overlake Clinics; Overlake Medical Center 

Why did you pick your specialty? Women’s health care is something I’ve been passionate about since I started working in an OB/GYN office to help pay my way through college. I have been further influenced as a global women’s health advocate after doing surgical volunteer work for the past 15 years in developing communities located in Central and South America, Bangladesh and Uganda. During my career and training, I have witnessed women being treated unfairly, dismissed altogether, or left to feel their symptoms are normal or “just in their head.” I have dedicated my career to providing care that is compassionate, equitable, competent, informed, patient and allows women to fully participate in their health care decision-making.

What do you wish people knew about your specialty? Pelvic floor disorders can have a major impact on a woman’s genitourinary health, sexual health and quality of life. A vast variety of treatments exist for pelvic floor disorders, and these disorders should not be accepted as just a “normal part of aging.” They are common, but aren’t normal, and treatments can be life changing.

How will the pandemic change your practice? I have learned through this pandemic that I am able to accomplish a lot of teaching, education and initial therapies by meeting with patients virtually. Eventually, we usually need to schedule an appointment for an in-person exam or, in some cases, additional testing, but covering the exam and educational components during the first visit can be overwhelming for some women when they are meeting me for the first time. The telehealth visits have allowed me to introduce patients to some concepts they haven’t known about, definitions and outcomes for their conditions, and to discuss some minimally invasive options for therapy. I feel that in some cases, these visits ended up being a gentler introduction to dealing with pelvic floor disorders on top of the additional stressors Covid-19 has introduced, like kids trying to learn remotely from home, working from home, the loss of travel, social functions and seeing family.

This feature is a part of our 21st annual list of the region’s best physicians. View the list here. 

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