Patient Story: Melanie Willoughby

Busy business executive Melanie Willoughby has time for all her annual doctor appointments thanks to the efficiency of the Executive Health Program.

Trying to fit doctors appointments into her very busy schedule is tricky for Melanie Willoughby, who runs the Government Affairs Office and oversees eight lobbyists as Senior Vice President of the New Jersey Business & Industry Association. The appointments usually are scheduled on different days and locations, and it can take months to get exams and follow-ups done.

“It’s nerve-wracking because physicians have a schedule, I have a schedule and we’re all trying to cram a lot into a short period of time,” she explains.

Luckily, there is a program that caters to busy executives like Ms. Willoughby – the Executive Health Program (EHP) at Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital (RWJ). The EHP streamlines check-ups, exams and consultations so executives who don’t regularly visit the doctor or don’t have time to go to the doctor in a traditional outpatient medical setting get it all done efficiently, in a relaxed environment.

A colleague and current EHP patient referred Ms. Willoughby to the program. It’s a perfect fit for her. She comes in annually for a Women’s Wellness Consultation, which includes a physical, blood work, pelvic exam, Pap smear, and mammogram, and receives results the same day. EHP Program Coordinators Julie Bartol, RN, and Elizabeth Maldonado, RN – who together offer more than 40 years of varied clinical experience – guide patients through the entire process.

“The EHP recognizes that time is money for busy executives,” says Michael Steinberg, MD, MPH, an Associate Professor of Medicine at UMDNJ-Robert Wood Johnson Medical School (RWJMS) and an Internist at RWJUH. “Scheduling doctors EXECUTIVE HEALTH Time is Money appointments for different dates, times and locations can be off-putting, but these visits must happen because nothing is more valuable than good health,” he says. “The EHP offers patients an experience tailored to his or her individual health needs, all in one place.”

Ms. Willoughby is most impressed with the time that EHP doctors spend with patients. “It’s not your typical 10- or 15-minute visit. Issues and concerns are vetted,” she says. “If not for that attentiveness, issues that could have become more serious problems would not have been found so quickly.”

Blood work done during an EHP physical revealed an iron deficiency. Ms. Willoughby didn’t feel sick, but Dr. Steinberg suggested she see a gastroenterologist anyway to determine whether it was indicative of a more serious problem. She did, and pre-cancerous polyps in her colon were found and removed.

Ms. Willoughby also learned that she had sleep apnea after acting on a recommendation from her gynecologist at the EHP, Gloria Bachmann, MD, Professor and Interim Chair of the Department of Obstetrics/Gynecology and Reproductive Science at RWJMS. “We talked about my weight, diet and lifestyle, and based on what I told her Dr. Bachmann expressed concern that I might have sleep apnea. I followed up, and she was right,” she says.

Ms. Willoughby is thankful for the EHP. “I’d highly recommend it to other busy executives,” she says. “I get everything done here in 4 hours and go back to work. I don’t have anxiety about doctors appointments anymore.”