OBGYN's new practice prompts controversy
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Welcome to Dr. Yvette Westford's obstetrician and gynecologist office.
Earthy brown, beige and rustic orange and red tones feed the eye's appetite.
In the corner of the waiting area, a cylindrical, deep-humming aquarium bubbles at the surface.
But something else bubbles in Westford's new private practice - controversy.
Patients have been told Westford can no longer deliver at Citizens Medical Center. However, Westford has not received any formal letter.
David Brown, the chief executive officer of the hospital, said in an email statement that Westford is still part of the medical staff but is not allowed to deliver because the hospital's Women's Pavilion requires an equally-trained surgical assistant, which Westford no longer has because she has a private practice.
Westford said she remains positive despite being limited only to delivering at DeTar Healthcare System, and pushes forward with a smile and hop in her step by advocating for women and their health by offering something simple and different for Victoria - a choice.
'I rose from zero'
Westford's story is one about a woman with a vision come true.
The 48-year-old was born and raised in Guyana, an impoverished country in South America. Having dreams of growing up to become an educated doctor were just that: dreams.
"I educated myself. I paid for every credit that I earned. I worked, and I earned the money so that I could pay to go to school," Westford said, head tilted up and a smile stretched across her face.
Westford is happily married and has three young girls.
"I'm living my dream," she added, smile still radiating.
Westford's intention for moving to Victoria six years ago was to open her own practice. However, she became sidetracked and decided to work in a larger practice with seven other obstetrician gynecologists at Victoria Women's Clinic.
Dr. Philip Suarez, with the Victoria Women's Clinic, said Westford's private practice is not an expansion of women's services.
Suarez attributes any expansion to services from community outreach programs like DeTar Healthcare System's Healthy Woman conference.
"She was always here," Suarez said of Westford. "She can't practice at Citizens. The reality is she's offering fewer services."
Bill Blanchard, DeTar's chief executive officer, would not comment about why she cannot practice at Citizens, but did say DeTar allows its surgeons to practice alone with proper nursing assistance.
Blanchard also said that with new economic upturns in the area, such as Caterpillar and the Eagle Ford Shale, the growth of the population is likely to increase.
"The number of deliveries will go up," he said. "Having as many OB-GYN's in town is a good thing for Victoria."
This is what Westford has dreamed of offering - more options for a booming population.
That dream finally became reality in August.
However, the opening of her clinic was a far step from her upbringing.
Westford did not see a television until she was 19 years old. She grew up along the banks of one of Guyana's rivers.
Nature was her bathroom, and refrigeration was something never seen.
After high school, she received her undergraduate degree at Pace University in biology and her doctoral degree from Ross University School of Medicine. She completed her residency at Yale University School of Medicine, Danbury Hospital Program.
Then she moved to Victoria.
"I thought it was a good introduction to Victoria," she said.
'I'm offering an alternative'
Westford could not fight the feeling.
Each year that passed, the thought of going back to her original plan of opening her own place resurfaced.
For Westford, it's all about the women.
Women, for so long, have had only the Victoria Women's Clinic to go to for their needs.
"The doctors at Victoria Women's Clinic are qualified and they are terrific," she said. "This is simply a different place; an option."
Westford enjoys advocating for women and having conversations about womanhood, she said.
Her office, she feels, is warm and inviting.
Nadine Pabst has been seeing Westford for several years.
When Westford opened her new office, Pabst, a Victoria resident, decided to follow her.
"I think she's terrific," she said. "Her office has a real personal flare."
The office is, as Westford planned for, warm and inviting, she said.
The relation Westford has with her patients is something she admires most about starting her own private practice.
"I'm a mother," Westford said. "I live their lives. I just happen to be a doctor, too."