Welner, M.D. pioneered the field of gynecologic care
for women with disabilities and had a worldwide impact on
promoting the care of patients with disabilities before her
very untimely death in 2001.
Clinical Assistant Professor of
Obstetrics and Gynecology at Georgetown University Medical Center and the University
of Maryland Medical Center, Dr. Welner established the Primary Care Programs for
Women with Special Needs in Washington, DC in 1993. That program, based at the
National Rehabilitation Hospital and Washington Hospital, was the first of its
kind. Dr. Welner lent her experience and dynamic vision in this area to many other
medical institutions that have followed suit with programs that more sensitively
and specifically cater to providing medical care for patients with special needs.
Welner finished medical school at The Medical College of Pennsylvania at the tender
age of 22. She completed an Obstetrics and Gynecology residency at Yale University,
where she participated in groundbreaking research in infertility. She began her
private group practice in Pennsylvania, before accepting a position to run a women's
clinic in Atlanta, Georgia.
In 1987, Dr. Welner's very promising career
was halted by an accident that left her grievously disabled. Tenaciously fighting
to regain her independence over the next several years, Dr. Welner returned to
medicine in 1991, completing a post doctoral fellowship in the Department of Ob/Gyn
at the Yale University School of Medicine. During the journey of her arduous physical
and neurological rehabilitation, Dr. Welner's personal experiences guided her
along a professionally redefining path. Inspired and ever the creative problem-solving
physician, Dr. Welner refocused her skills to address the gynecologic needs of
women with disabilities and chronic medical conditions.
ability to communicate complex ideas in simple terms helped her patients better
care for themselves, and drew those unfamiliar with the needs of the disabled
to be more open, responsive, and even commit interest and resources. Her advocacy
was real and heartfelt, and above all, selfless. Dr. Welner's research contributions
to people with disabilities were substantial; she conceived of and completed a
videotape to educate women with disabilities, their partners, healthcare providers,
and educators on aspects of breast health for women with disabilities.
range of Dr. Welner's contributions to funded disability health research spanned
easy clotting in the immobile patient to the treatment of osteoporosis, to sexual
response in women with disabilities, to the efficient use of antibiotics. When
she couldn't get funding for her research, Dr. Welner paid for it out of her own
pocket. That kind of determination propelled Sandy in each of her tireless efforts
to promote recognition of the unique needs of the disabled woman.
lectured nationally and internationally, and published widely on topics pertaining
to women's health and disabilities, including seminars sponsored by state and
government health departments. She was the recipient of a number of prestigious
honors, including an acknowledgment for her outstanding service on the Committee
for Underserved Women by the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists;
and the Clinical Achievement Award from The Society for Women's Health Research.
some of the most fundamental disadvantages confronting many patients, Dr. Welner
put her talents toward developing the first universally accessible examination
table, known widely as the Welner Table. Dr. Welner's vision for responding to
the demonstrated needs for accessibility through thoughtful inventions has inspired
her legacy in Welner Enabled. Her remarkable efforts to help all the patients
of the world are the driving force of the creative initiative that powers Welner
Enabled and the products we will develop.
The influence of Dr. Welner's
wisdom continues in the just published "Welner's Guide to the Care of Women
With Disabilities," released by the renowned medical publisher Lippincott
Press in November 2003. Welner's Textbook is the first text available to guide
practitioners in handling the special problems posed by patients with special
needs. And so, with Welner Enabled, we draw upon the patients, advocates, and
colleagues, who so inspired Dr. Sandy's creativity, to answer the challenge with
the next generation Welner Table, and more innovations to come. Thus will be Dr.
Sandy Welner's destiny.
here to read more about Sandra Welner, M.D. and the legacy
of Welner Enabled