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July 24, 2015

A Q&A with Kathryn Boockvar of Lifecycle WomanCare

“Social Capital” – Philadelphia Business Journal

First off, why the new name from The Birth Center to Lifecycle WomanCare? In short, we wanted to make it easier for women of all ages and backgrounds to access the wonderful health benefits of our model of care, from adolescence through menopause, and we believe a more inclusive name — Lifecycle WomanCare — will help advance this goal. We believe Lifecycle WomanCare communicates far more clearly what we have always provided throughout our 36-year history — that we welcome all those seeking the highest quality of health care, regardless of income, regardless of age or background or stage of life, regardless of sexual orientation or gender expression.

Briefly, how different is LWC from a regular doctor’s office visit for a teenage girl or a college-age female? The difference goes right to the heart of our health care model at Lifecycle WomanCare — our commitment to the partnership between a woman or teen and her health provider. When a teenager reaches that stage where she feels confused and awkward about going to a pediatrician, what she often really needs is someone whom she feels really comfortable asking questions, and confidence that her provider is really listening. All our appointments are 30-60 minutes long, which is practically unheard of these days. With this time, we can provide a trusting and empowering approach to care. These same factors appeal to college-age women, who often want to forge long-lasting relationships with their providers, and our ability to care for women throughout their lives helps establish this deep connection.

What’s the staffing breakdown? We have about 40 employees, of which approximately two-thirds are certified nurse-midwives, nurse practitioners, registered nurses, lactation consultants, and educators. The remaining third comprise our administration, billing and facility staff.

From the opposite side of the spectrum from females coming of age, so to speak, are the particular issues women entering menopause face. Why’s LWC a special place for them? During peri-menopause through post-menopause, many women experience a range of hormonal shifts. This causes many stressful physical, emotional, and cognitive symptoms, often different for each woman. At a time like this, a trusted relationship between a woman and her provider is critically important, and personalized, holistic approaches are essential to making sure all her needs are being met. Our 30-60 minute appointments give us the time to work collaboratively with women to help them understand what they are experiencing, and offer a range of therapies and options depending on their individualized needs.

Another women’s health issue that gets the sharp focus of LWC is breastfeeding. It’s not always so problem-fee or natural as one might think. What’s help does LWC provide in that regard? This is very true — many women have a challenging time with breastfeeding, and the vulnerability some women feel following childbirth can make the stress worse. This is why, at LWC, we offer breastfeeding classes and assistance both before and after the baby is born. Our lactation specialists provide both individual consultations and classes. We also hold support groups in the community — currently in Rosemont, West Philadelphia, and Phoenixville — which are open to anyone and are free of charge. In addition to the individualized help that many of our clients have found tremendously helpful, these groups and classes have also helped foster community ties resulting in lifelong connections.

Women’s issues in general have rightfully gotten more attention in recent years, but the treatment of their particular health issues still need greater attention. Why is that the situation in America in 2015? That’s a million-dollar question. Why is the United States the only Western country — and one of perhaps only three countries in the world — that does not provide some level of paid maternity leave? Why do we spend far more on health care for women, men, and children than other industrialized countries and yet have worse health outcomes, quality, and efficiency? I think many of these decisions are sometimes made for political reasons or as a consequence of poor planning, and in the words of Mary Poppins — by people who can’t see past the end of their noses. If we looked at these issues in a broader way, and consider the long-term gains we would achieve by making some short- and medium-term investments, we would save much both in dollars and in health outcomes.

By training, you’re a lawyer. Were you always interested in caregiving and the lives of people who didn’t have your advantages in life? Yes, I feel incredibly fortunate for the opportunities I’ve had, and my work as an attorney and in the community has always centered on helping people who have not had those same opportunities. I’m especially proud of the work I’ve done to advance and protect voting rights, as well as representing and advocating for women, low-income and disabled Pennsylvanians, and victims of domestic violence. My parents inspired me and I am forever grateful.

You ran for Congress in 2012, was it a rewarding experience? Would you do it again? I know it’s hard to believe, but it was rewarding, even despite the muddiness of the process. I really appreciated connecting with voters and strategizing about solutions to some of the most critical issues facing us today. I also realized that I am someone who enjoys having a million different balls in the air at one time; in other words, managing a fast-paced, multifaceted, and broad-based operation — which is also what I get to do at LWC. As for the future — who knows? I love my job and am inspired by our team and our commitment to providing the highest quality of and access to care to as many women and families as possible, and plan to stay here as long as possible.

Let’s talk about you. You and your family love RVing and visiting America’s great outdoors. What gives you the biggest kick out of that? This is really hard to put into words. The staggering beauty and grandeur experienced while hiking in our national parks is simply awe-inspiring and breathtaking. And RVing is a great way to travel — you get to partake in all the fun of campground life, without the less fun parts like getting soaked in the rain.

Name a few of your favorites places to visit? Glacier National Park is one of my absolute favorites, I’ve been there three times. If you haven’t gone yet, don’t wait! The glaciers are expected to be completely melted by approximately 2020. And right here in our backyard — the Pennsylvania Grand Canyon in Tioga County — a hidden rural beauty with some great rails-to-trails for biking and hiking.

Where haven’t you been, but would love to see? Israel and Egypt. They hold such meaning and so much history for so many; I want to experience the powerful wonders in these lands.

Pick a favorite: Desert, ocean or mountains? It’s probably obvious from my other answers: mountains. I love the grandeur and the energy of hiking and the views on the way to and at the top.

Have you ever or would you ever bungee jump? I don’t think so. I am an adventure-seeker — in a moderate way — but not a thrill-seeker. The difference to me is that I see adventure-seeking as building up to a process of reaching a certain adventure — whatever it is. Bungee jumping seems more of a sudden thrill, which feels more out of my control, and is therefore less appealing to me.

You love reading, which authors are you favorites? One of my all-time favorites is To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee: the plot, the character development, the message — all incredibly powerful. I also am a Harry Potter/J.K. Rowling devotee. There are some amazing authors of so-called young adult fiction that I have really come to love, including Markus Zusak, E.L. Konigsburg, Lois Lowry, John Green.

Is there any single book you have or would like to re-read? The Vagabond by Colette. It influenced me when I was in college, and stuck with me enough that I named my daughter Colette.

Let’s go to the movies. What kind of movies are your favorites? I tend to like comedies, and also movies with strong character development.

Which ones, would you say, are your two or three all-time favorites? Mary Poppins is one of my all-time favorites, the mix of animation into non-animation was ground-breaking, and I love the music and choreography and humor. Good Will Hunting is another of my favorites, great acting and powerful story. And I love the Monty Python movies for their oddball humor.

Who is your favorite male and female actors? Tom Hanks. I love the range of characters he’s played, from humor to tragedy. Lately I’ve really enjoyed Jennifer Lawrence, for the same reasons.

When they make the movie of your life, who should play you? Tina Fey, with blue contact lenses. I want to be her when I grow up. I love her humor, intelligence, political sense, and her willingness to be out there as herself.

A few more fun things. If you had to eat one food for the rest of your life what would it be? If I am allowed to have a prepared food, there is a Mexican stew I love, which is based in a tomatillo or green tomato salsa. The mandatory ingredients are scrambled eggs, feta cheese, and potatoes. But after those you can add whatever you like — I often add chicken and zucchini. If I have to choose a single item food, I’d go with peaches. When they’re good, they’re perfect.

What food do you just not like? Sweetbreads. It just feels wrong. And sardines. They remind me of that scene in A Fish Called Wanda where Kevin Kline eats Michael Palin’s live slimy fish.

You are on a cross-country bus trip, what famous person would you like to be seated next to? David Letterman. Goes without saying, but he would not only be able to keep me laughing the whole time, but also has 30-plus years of stories that I would hope he would share.

And, the opposite, who would you really prefer not to have to sit with? John Boehner. I think our skin tones clash.


Name: Kathryn Boockvar

Title, how long in the job: Executive director, 15 months

Company, city: Lifecycle WomanCare & The Birth Center, Bryn Mawr

Age: 46

Education: American University, Washington College Of Law, J.D., 1993

University Of Pennsylvania, B.A., 1990

Cornell University, High Performance Leadership Certificate, 2014

Birthplace: Staten Island, N.Y.

Residence: Doylestown

Family: Husband Jordan Yeager, 16 year old daughter Colette, dog Zoie.


– Dell Poncet

Managing Editor – Philadelphia Business Journal