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Well Women

A new kind of health-services organization focused on women

Photograph: Eileen Sawyer

When Ella Health opened in Westport this past spring, it filled a long-standing need for a women’s health facility, offering 3-D mammograms in a private, spa-like setting. Here, advanced technology is delivered with empathy and comfort.

“The idea of such an innovative approach to women’s wellness was very appealing to me,” says Melissa Dyrdahl, CEO of the company. “As a breast cancer survivor, I felt very strongly about making sure that women not only have the opportunity to get a mammogram, but also get one in a way that is pleasant. Many of us have had what I refer to as the ‘prison’ mammogram experience—where it’s cold, clinical, no one looks you in the eye, no one explains to you what’s happening. You often don’t get the results for days or weeks, leaving you in a state of anxiety.”

The waiting room at Ella is painted in warm colors and made even more soothing by soft background music. The all-female staff offers guests coffee, tea and water with lemon. “There’s no reason why a woman can’t have a warm robe, a private dressing room that locks and a technician who calls you by name and does whatever she can to make you comfortable,” notes Dyrdahl. “For a lot of women, just being able to sit in our waiting room for ten or fifteen minutes is the calmest, most relaxing part of their day.”

One of five Ella Health centers in the country, the Westport facility is the first to offer both mammograms and physical therapy (PT), along with the most advanced technology and best clinical practices. Unlike many hospitals and doctor’s offices, no extra fee is charged for 3-D mammograms. “Physical therapy is a natural extension of wellness services designed specifically for women by women,” Dyrdahl explains. “When mammograms do reveal breast cancer, PT following treatment can help women get back to how they felt before radiation, chemotherapy or surgery—or all three. PT treatments here often include intimate conversations in a safe, secure environment.”

272 Post Rd. E., Westport; 203-557-8030; ellahealth.com