Washington, DC – Today, Jeanne A. Conry, MD, PhD, of Granite Bay, CA, became the 64th president of The American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG), based in Washington, DC. Dr. Conry was sworn in during the presidential inauguration and convocation at the annual conference of ob-gyns in New Orleans, LA.
Dr. Conry is assistant physician in chief at The Permanente Medical Group in Roseville, CA, and associate clinical professor of ob-gyn at the University of California, Davis. She has been a practicing ob-gyn with The Permanente Medical Group for more than 20 years.
“This is the year of the woman,” Dr. Conry said in her opening remarks. “For the first time in the history of the United States, we have agreed that the health of women is a priority. We have agreed that by investing in this generation we have invested in the next generation. We have agreed that the basic health care rights of women include annual well-woman health care, preconception health, and reproductive health. Whether it’s a pill, patch, ring, injection, implant, insertable, or a ligation, we can address reproductive health for what it represents: an investment in our future.
“The Affordable Care Act (ACA) acknowledges that preventive health care is important for women by making it a covered benefit,” said Dr. Conry. The ACA includes important preventive health care benefits, including annual well-woman visits, cervical and breast cancer screenings, breastfeeding support, contraceptive coverage, and domestic violence screening and counseling, all benefits based on ACOG recommendations. “Because of the ACA requirement, about 47 million women now have better health care coverage. And because the ACA prohibits insurance companies from denying women care based on preexisting conditions, more of our patients have health care coverage.”
Continuing her emphasis on the importance of preventive care, Dr. Conry shared a simple health mantra: Every Woman, Every Time. “This means that at every contact in our health care system we need to address reproductive health and well-woman care…for Every Woman, Every Time,” she said. “It is crucial that we, as ob-gyns, take the lead and focus on preconception and interconception health care and understand that, in fact, preconception health is really about well-woman care. Only by addressing chronic medical conditions, wellness, and contraception together can we hope to improve maternal outcomes.
“I am delighted to announce the National Maternal Health Initiative,” Dr. Conry said. The National Maternal Health Initiative is a collaborative effort that includes ACOG; Society for Maternal-Fetal Medicine; Association of Women’s Health Obstetric and Neonatal Nurses; American College of Nurse Midwives; Merck for Mothers; and the Maternal Child Health Branch of HRSA to improve maternal health outcomes. “ACOG will serve a key role in this collaborative effort, particularly around two of the five goals: well-woman health care and safety and quality in maternity care. Our goal is to reduce both maternal morbidity and mortality by improving women’s health across their reproductive years by increasing access to contraception planning and by ensuring safety in maternity care.
“I will spend my presidential year promoting the message that we need to pay more attention to the impact of our environment on reproductive health,” Dr. Conry said. “As physicians, we are well-versed in what I refer to as the ‘Environment of Care,’ where we caution our patients about exposure to medications and health risks during pregnancy. We know about the impact of mercury and DES on reproductive health and fetal development. However, as ob-gyns, we have difficulty navigating the science around reproductive health and the environment.” The chemicals known collectively as “endocrine disruptors” are of greatest concern, she said. “These chemicals interfere with our own body’s homeostasis and can impact this generation and generations to come. It is my hope that ACOG will take a strong leadership role in advising ob-gyns on patient care in this area.”
Dr. Conry’s clinical interests include menopausal health and preconception care. She was chair of the California Preconception Care Council from 2006 to 2010 and currently serves on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Select Panel on Preconception, a coalition of government and health care providers that seeks to improve pregnancy outcomes by emphasizing the need for healthy choices across the reproductive life span of women.
As assistant physician in chief at The Permanente Medical Group, Dr. Conry had an integral role in developing the group’s chronic conditions management program, making sure the particular needs of women and preconception care were included. She also oversaw the design and development of the group’s Women and Children’s Center, which is one of the largest obstetric service providers for Kaiser Permanente in the US. She currently oversees health and wellness activities, focusing on the health and well-being of Kaiser Permanente members and employees and the Sacramento community overall.
Dr. Conry received her medical degree from and completed her residency training at the University of California, Davis. Prior to medical school, she earned a doctor of philosophy in biology at the University of Colorado-Boulder and an undergraduate degree in biology at California State University, Chico.
The full text of Dr. Conry’s inaugural speech is scheduled to be published in the July 2013 issue of Obstetrics & Gynecology.