For over 40 years the Center has served generations of women living in the West Philadelphia community. In 1999, the Center was named for Dr. Helen O. Dickens, a remarkable woman and a pioneer who spent her career in academic medicine seeking to find ways to improve the lives of low-income women and their families. Dr. Dickens practiced obstetrics and gynecology in Philadelphia for over 50 years, joining the faculty at the University of Pennsylvania in the late 1960s. In 1967 she established one of the first multidisciplinary Obstetrical Programs in the United States for teen mothers. She was a life-long advocate for women’s health especially among the underserved, the youth, the vulnerable, and minorities in Philadelphia.
“Low income women often believe they must choose between feeding their families and paying for medical care that they personally need to help prevent and/or address health issues,” said C. Neill Epperson, MD, director of the Penn Center for Women's Behavioral Wellness. “Recognizing the unique balance between the physical and psychosocial well being of underserved women, the Helen O. Dickens Center for Women’s Health is providing access to comprehensive healthcare for these women throughout their lifespan. This Center is a great example of Penn Medicine’s dedication to helping improve the lives of women and their families who live within the local community.”
Today, many of the Center’s patients are either Medicaid insured, uninsured, and/or immigrants living in low-income areas where there is limited access to obstetrical and gynecological education and care, and the stress of living at or below the poverty line is high. They come to the Dickens Center with complex medical, obstetrical, psychosocial and educational needs that range from medical care for high-risk pregnancies to domestic abuse counseling, help with housing issues to referrals for support and education, to connecting patients with Healthy Start, a community-based maternal and child health program. Each year the Center performs over 30,000 visits and delivers 2,500 babies.
The first annual Wine and Dine event invited donors to purchase a table prior to the event. Donors and participating restaurants were then paired at random. On Tuesday, donors enjoyed an exclusive dinner for six generously provided by participating restaurants including Alma De Cuba, Buddakan, Butcher & Singer, Capital Grille, Davio’s, Del Frisco, Fountain Restaurant, Lacroix, Le Castgne, Mica, Osteria, R2L, Savona, Table 31, The Prime Rib and Tinto. In total, the event raised over $40,000 for the Center.
“We are very pleased with the success of the event,” said Ashley Govberg, co-chair of the Penn Medicine Women’s Health Leadership Council. “It’s great that so many people, restaurants, and sponsors showed support for such an important cause. We hope that the event will grow with time."