Catherine Blum interviews Emma Boulton, medical doctor and co-director of Clinic 66 on Sydney’s North Shore about their womens health clinic and the services they provide …
What is Clinic 66? What services do you offer?
Clinic 66 is a specialised medical practice, in sexual and reproductive health. We offer advice and treatment for anything related to sex, sexual health and reproduction. Special areas of expertise include contraception, fertility and infertility advice, menopause, unplanned pregnancy management, STI screening and treatments, reproductive cancer screening, and psychosexual issues. Men and women and couples together are welcome.  We offering consultations with male or female doctors  and undertake  procedures in our brand new purpose built clinic in Chatswood. IV sedation ( light anaesthetic is available for all our procedures).

How did you come up with the name? What does it mean?

Clinic 66 is name which indicates we are a medical facility but everything within it is private but diverse. It does not provide any specific mention of the services which we offer, though for those who know us and what we do, can be instantly reassured.  Our clients are generally young, savvy, and discerning and we wanted to develop a brand which was instantly recognisable for what we represent and offer. We hope the brand “clinic 66” will become synonymous in peoples minds with sexual health, vitality, high quality and accessible products and services. It was also the street  number of the premises where the clinic was founded

Why did you decide to create the clinic?

Historically, sexual health and wellbeing has been stigmatised as a medical specialty, with connotations of smut and shame. We aim to turn that around.  Sexual and reproductive health is a fundamental part of our lives, and needs to be given the emphasis and attention it deserves. Bring it out of the closet!  For too long men and women have put up with problems which they are embarrassed to talk about, and which many doctors dont have the skills and knowledge to deal with.  Our clinic is positioned as a specialised primary medical practice, ie our doctors are all general practitioners offering a subspecialty range of services which overlap with  gynaecology, urology, sexual health, population health and surgery.  Our services are affordable and accessible, as no referral is required to attend the clinic.  There is no other clinic in Sydney or Australia who do what we do.  We have identified the need, and created our service to meet that need.

Have you always worked with women’s health before?

Our clinic has been operating on the North Shore of Sydney, offering predominantly womens health services for 18yrs. All our doctors have special skills and qualifications to enable them to do this.

Personally, I studied for a diploma in obstetrics and gynaecology in 1992 and have always been interested in womens health. Women have specific health issues, and need a doctor who has special skills and knowledge, to give the best advice and treatments.  Get that right and everyone ( the whole family/community)  benefits!

Why did you decide to offer services for men as well?

There is a misconception that men dont care about their health which is a myth. They do! However, medical facilities need to be appropriate so  that men feel they are welcome and it is ok to talk about their health issues and concerns. Men like the doctors to adopt a frank approach, demonstrate professional competence and resolve issues promptly.  In addition to general medical concerns, such as cardiovascular disease, mental health issues, diabetes, bowel and prostate cancer screening, men need to feel that they can discuss sexual and reproductive issues, with an appropriately qualified medical professional.

Can anyone go to the clinic? Do they need a referral?

Anyone can self refer to the clinic. They do not need a referral. However, many doctors do refer their patients to us, if they dont feel confident to provide advice/treatment regarding sexual and/or reproductive health issues themselves. Other doctors frequently refer to us for our procedures that we offer such as vasectomy, colposcopy, IUD insertion and management of unplanned pregnancy. For these reasons, other doctors will usually send a referral letter with the patient.

Who do you think is more usually concerned with their health and do regular checkups – men or women? Why?

Compared with women, men visit the doctor less often, have shorter consultations and tend to see the GP later in the course of an illness. For this reason, it is important for a clinic such as ours to maximise the opportunity to engage men effectively. We do this by offering a choice of male or female doctor, all who have special qualifications and experience in sexual reproductive health, offering evening and weekend  appointments , and having the right attitude toward our patients. We will use every opportunity to engage men when they come to us, with discussion about preventative health and screening, as well as dealing with the presenting issues.

Were you always interested in medicine? Is there a family influence on your professional choice?

Personally, I have always been drawn to medicine, and have a strong altruistic streak. I am driven by the need to help people and make changes to improve quality of life for individuals and communities. Reproductive health is the perfect specialty area to work in, in order to make a difference to the health of young, healthy individuals and their families, as well as communities. Helping men and women manage their reproductive health has a major impact on their overall health  and on the health of the society we live in.

I have had several family members who have been involved in health and community development, and I have no doubt I have been influenced by them from an early age.

Clinic 66
31 Bertram St
Chatswood NSW 2067
Phone (02) 9411 3411
Fax (02) 9411 3422