5 Ways High Blood Pressure Can Affect Your Body

High Blood Pressure Measurement Photo

Did you know that one out of three adults in America has high blood pressure? And, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), that only about half of those nearly 75 million people have their blood pressure under control?

It’s true — high blood pressure (also known as hypertension) has become a serious medical problem in our country. And if you have high blood pressure, it’s far more serious than you might think.

While the most immediate, short-term damage done by high blood pressure might not be instantly apparent, this condition is one of the leading contributors to serious long-term health problems among Americans.

Your blood pressure is the force at which blood is being pushed against the walls of your arteries. Here are just a few ways your blood pressure can affect your body when it’s at a higher level than it should be:

It Can Damage Your Heart

The CDC notes that your heart often bears the brunt of the damage caused by high blood pressure. This is because, over time, high blood pressure can harden your arteries, which makes it more difficult for your body to get blood and oxygen to and from the heart. When that happens, these are just some of the potential outcomes:

It Can Increase Your Risk of Stroke

As we’ve previously discussed on our blog, stroke is a serious medical condition and one of the leading causes of death and long-term disability in Americans. Unfortunately, the reason why it’s so common in our country is because high blood pressure is, too.

The simple truth is this: Hypertension is the primary cause of stroke.

It Could Eventually Cause an Aneurysm

An aneurysm happens when a section of an artery’s walls are weakened and bulges. If the bulging gets too extreme, the artery can rupture and cause internal bleeding — a serious, life-threatening situation.

Though the exact causes of aneurysms are far from certain, high blood pressure has been linked to an increased risk of developing an aneurysm because of the long-term damage it can do to arteries.

It Can Lead to Kidney Failure

Sustained high blood pressure can lead to damaged blood vessels in the kidneys. Once damaged, the filtering process that occurs inside your kidneys, which helps your body rid itself of waste and toxins, becomes more difficult and less effective. Over time, this can lead to kidney disease and even kidney failure.

It Can Damage Your Eyes

One little known fact about high blood pressure is that it can have a significant impact on your eyes, specifically your retina.

The retina is found at the back of your eye, and high blood pressure can affect how well this tissue is able to function. This is because abnormal blood pressure can cause damage to the vessels in the retina — leading to double vision, dim vision, headaches, or even total vision loss.

Usually, this damage is done over time, but there are instances where very high blood pressure spikes can cause symptoms to appear suddenly. These situations are medical emergencies and should be treated as such if they ever happen to you or someone you know.

Visit the U.S. National Library of Medicine website to learn more about how blood pressure levels can affect your eyesight.

High blood pressure is a dangerous condition that affects millions of Americans young and old. Unfortunately, many people with high blood pressure don’t know that they have it. That’s why it’s important to get your blood pressure levels checked regularly and get your blood pressure in check by practicing healthy living habits. Talk to your primary care provider to learn more about your blood pressure and how you can get on track to preventing high blood pressure.

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Our Top Tips for a Healthy and Happy Pregnancy

Pregnancy Checkup Photo

There’s a lot of information out there on how to give you and your baby the best headstart with a healthy pregnancy. We’ve narrowed down the noise to give you some important tips that you may not have heard before or, at least, ones that deserve a second look.

Tip #1: Eat Right

Such extensive focus is paid to what you CAN’T eat during pregnancy that it’s easy to overlook what you can! These foods aren’t just delicious — they provide essential nutrients that aid in your baby’s development.

  • Fruits and veggies
  • Whole grains, like oatmeal, whole-wheat bread, and brown rice
  • Fat-free or low-fat milk or non-dairy drinks with added calcium and vitamin D
  • Protein from healthy sources, like beans and peas, eggs, lean meats, seafood (8 to 12 ounces per week) and unsalted nuts and seeds

It can be helpful to keep a pregnancy food journal to keep track of your intake of these important goodies.

Tip #2: Monitor Your Weight Gain

According to the National Institute of Health, gaining the right amount of weight during pregnancy helps your baby properly develop and grow to the right size. However, gaining too much weight (or not gaining enough) can have harmful effects on both you and your child. Use the chart below as a reference point, and talk to your doctor if you are concerned about your pregnancy weight gain.

Pre-Pregnancy Body Mass IndexHealthy Weight Gain
Less than 18.528 to 40 pounds
18.5 to 24.925 to 35 pounds
25 to 29.915 to 25 pounds
Greater than 3011 to 20 pounds

Tip #3: Prioritize Your Sleep

Expectant mothers need to remember that they’re not just eating for two, they’re sleeping for two as well. Thus, it’s important for them to get 7-8 hours a night, if possible. But, what about when sleeping gets less and less comfortable as pregnancy continues? Some simple ways to combat the strained sleep of the third trimester include:

  • Sleep on your left side and spend as little time as possible lying on your back. This allows for the best blood flow to the fetus and to your uterus and kidneys.
  • If you are experiencing leg cramps, you may want to avoid carbonated sodas and drinks
  • If you can’t sleep, don’t lie in bed forcing yourself to sleep. Get up and read a book, write in a journal, or take a warm bath.
  • If you get a cramp in your leg, straighten your leg and flex your foot upward. Try doing this before going to bed several times to help ward off future cramps.

Tip #4: Absolutely NO Alcohol, Tobacco or Drug Use

Recently, conflicting information has been circulating regarding whether or not some amount of alcohol, e-cigarettes, or the newly legalized medicinal marijuana is acceptable to consume during pregnancy. Despite this, it is still strongly encouraged to cease all alcohol and drug use during pregnancy. According to a 2019 report by the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology, “Fetal Alcohol Syndrome (FAS) is most likely to occur in babies born to women who drink heavily throughout pregnancy. But alcohol-related problems can occur with lesser amounts of alcohol use. It is best not to drink at all while you are pregnant.” For medicinal marijuana usage, talk to your doctor to adjust your medication in preparation for your pregnancy.

If you are having trouble reducing your alcohol or drug consumption, talk to your trusted health professionals about your consumption habits.

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Don’t Miss Southern Maryland’s Premier Women’s Golf Tournament This June

2019 Southern Maryland Women's Golf Invitational Image

When it comes to golf courses in Southern Maryland, none are better than Swan Point Yacht and Country Club. And when it comes to annual golf events, there’s only one that is exclusively for women. We hope you’ll join us at both this June.

Date, Time and Location

The 2019 Southern Maryland Women’s Golf Invitational will take place on Wednesday, June 19, from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. at Swan Point Yacht and Country Club in Issue, Maryland. Click here for directions to the course.

Event Details and Registration Information

Registrations are just $100 per person and can be purchased individually or as a foursome on our website. You can also use our printable registration form that can be mailed to the Charles Regional Medical Center Foundation Office.

For questions or to reserve your spot over the phone, please call (301) 609-4132.

Here’s everything we have planned for attendees:
  • Pre-tournament continental breakfast and putting contest
  • 18 holes of golf on the region’s premier course
  • Fun, interactive contests held throughout the day
  • Complimentary lunch and beverages on the course
  • Post-golf reception with awards for contest winners and top three teams

As always, proceeds from this great annual event benefit the Charles Regional Medical Center Foundation and its mission of making our community a better, healthier place to live.

Purchase Tickets

Sponsorship Opportunities

Want to get your business involved? This event provides fantastic opportunities for businesses and organizations to get exposure in front of a fun, energetic group of women — all in support of a great cause!

To learn more about sponsorship options available, visit our website or print out the sponsorship form today.

Become a sponsor

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3 Reasons Why We’re Raising Awareness for Minority Health Month

Minority Health Month 2019 Photo

We’re proud to support Minority Health Month this April as we shine a light on the importance of equal and accessible health care in Southern Maryland. Here are three reasons why this month means so much to us and those who count on us.

Some Diseases Affect People Disproportionately

While diseases such as cancer or the flu affect everyone regardless of who they are, there are certain diseases and ailments that affect a disproportionate number of minority groups in America.

Sickle cell disease is one such disease that affects minorities in America, especially among black people and African-Americans. African-Americans and Latino-Americans are also at higher risk for developing diabetes than other groups, too.

While there are numerous reasons why these groups are at greater risk for developing these diseases, more than anything, these facts serve as stark reminders that more work needs to be done to ensure that every member of the population is given the same chance to live a long, healthy life.

Health Disparities Can Be Caused by Multiple Factors

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention defines health disparities as “preventable differences in the burden of disease, injury, violence, or opportunities to achieve optimal health.” Ethnicity, race, gender, disability status, and socioeconomic factors can all play a role in this, and it’s important for communities to step up to help everyone live healthier.

Health disparities can come from:

  • Poverty
  • Environmental Threats
  • Poor Access to Health Care
  • Educational Differences

You can learn more about the various health differences that exist among the American population by visiting the official website of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office of Minority Health.

Health Fairness is Important

At University of Maryland Charles Regional Medical Center, we believe that no one should be put at a disadvantage in the health system, regardless of race, ethnicity, social status, age, or gender. By valuing health fairness, we value all people equally, and we work to ensure that every person in our community always has access to high-quality health care.

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Add Your Loved One’s Name to the Honor Roll of Women Before the May Deadline

CRMC Honor Roll of Women Photo

Whether you’re a family member who’s looking to recognize your mother, a husband memorializing your beloved wife, or a grandparent who’s celebrating the arrival of a new granddaughter, the Honor Roll of Women is the ideal opportunity to honor the special woman in your life.

Since 2009, the Honor Roll of Women has recognized the most important women in the lives of friends, families, and neighbors. Each name added to the Honor Roll is commemorated on the donor recognition located in the hospital’s atrium lobby.

Charitable contributions of just $1,000 to the CRMC Foundation support the Honor Roll of Women at UM Charles Regional Medical Center and ensure your loved one’s name will be added to the recognition wall. These generous gifts are essential to the hospital and enable us to meet the needs of every patient who seeks medical treatment in our region.

The Honor Roll of Women committee is already busy planning the reception to recognize the honorees whose names will be added to the list this year. Honorees receive a special card notifying them of the gift, and all donors and honorees are invited to celebrate the unveiling of the new class in late June. May 15 is the deadline to have the name of the special woman in your life included in this program.

Making Your Gift

For more information about how to make an Honor Roll gift for your loved one, email foundation@crmcfoundation.org or call (301) 609-4132 today.

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5 Important Reasons to Focus on Heart Health This Month

American Heart Month 2019

It’s always a good time to think about heart health, but American Heart Month is the ideal time to remind yourself and your family, friends, and community about the importance of living a heart-healthy life. Here’s why:

Heart Disease Can Happen at Any Age

Contrary to popular belief, heart disease is not exclusive to older adults. That’s because many of the risk factors that contribute to heart disease are now being found among younger Americans more often than ever before.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), half of all Americans have at least one of the top three risk factors for heart disease, including obesity, high blood pressure, and smoking. And with rising obesity and high-blood-pressure rates among those between the ages of 35 and 64, heart disease is something that everyone — not just older Americans — should be thinking about.

Heart Disease is the Leading Cause of Death in America

Perhaps the most sobering statistic about heart disease for Americans is this: Heart disease is the leading cause of death for both men and women. In fact, about 1 out of every 4 deaths in the United States is caused by heart disease — that’s roughly 610,000 people every year.

Heart health isn’t just a problem that’s specific to America, however. Around the world, nearly 18 million lives are claimed due to cardiovascular disease, including heart disease and stroke, every year. And that number is expected to rise to 23.6 million within the next decade.

Every 40 Seconds, Someone in America Has a Heart Attack

A heart attack occurs when the heart doesn’t receive enough blood flow. And in America, someone has a heart attack, on average, every 40 seconds.

Nearly half of all sudden cardiac deaths occur outside of a hospital, which means that it’s important for everyone to know the warning signs of heart attack. The National Heart Attack Alert Program highlights these as the major signs:

    • Chest Pain or Discomfort — Usually discomfort on the left side of the chest that lasts for more than a few minutes or goes away and comes back
    • Discomfort in Other Areas of the Upper Body — Pain or discomfort in one or both arms, the back, neck, jaw, or stomach
    • Shortness of Breath — Can occur before or in conjunction with chest discomfort
    • Cold Sweat, Nausea, or Light-Headedness

If you or someone else is experiencing these symptoms, call 911 immediately. Remember, the longer you wait, the more damage may be done to the heart.

High Blood Pressure, High Cholesterol Levels, and Diabetes Can Increase Your Risk

Both high blood pressure and high cholesterol are major risk factors for cardiovascular diseases. Unfortunately, 1 in 3 U.S. adults already have high blood pressure and/or high cholesterol, and high blood pressure diagnoses among young people are on the rise as well.

Your blood pressure and cholesterol levels are mostly defined by lifestyle choices, but there are some other factors, such as family history, age, race, or sex that are out of your control. In addition, diabetes has also been tied to an increased risk for heart disease.

You’re in Control of Your Lifestyle

The most important thing you and your family can take away from American Heart Month is that much of your risk for heart disease is in your control. Following healthy eating habits, living a physically active life, not smoking, checking your blood pressure regularly, and controlling stress levels are essential to limiting your risk for developing cardiovascular diseases.

If you have any questions about your individual level of risk for cardiovascular disease or want to learn more about how to manage your blood pressure, cholesterol, or diabetes, be sure to talk to your primary care provider. In addition, we hope you’ll get involved by sharing this blog post or simply using the hashtag #HeartMonth throughout the month of February to help raise awareness for cardiovascular disease in your community!

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Dr. Eleanor Faherty is Now Accepting New Patients in Waldorf, MD

Advanced Breast Care in Southern Maryland. Dr. Eleanor Faherty.

The mission of the University of Maryland Medical System in Southern Maryland has always been to provide members of our community with essential health care services in nearby locations. We believe that everything from hospital services and surgical care to physical rehabilitation and primary care should be no more than just a short drive away. And now, we’re excited to announce that high-quality breast care is available closer to home than ever.

Eleanor Faherty, MD, FACS, combines advance techniques and a compassionate approach to provide greater outcomes for patients with breast health issues — all in a convenient Waldorf, MD, location.

About Dr. Faherty

A graduate of Albany Medical College and an Iraq War veteran, Dr. Eleanor Faherty has become one of Southern Maryland’s most respected and recognizable health care professionals. You can learn more about Dr. Faherty’s background, education, affiliations, and certifications on her profile on our website.

Specialities and Services

As one of the region’s foremost practitioners of breast care, Dr. Faherty specializes in a variety of services, including:

  • Breast Surgery
  • Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery
  • Pre- and Post-Surgery Rehabilitation
  • Genetic Counseling
  • Supportive Care
  • Patient Education
  • Support Groups

Medical Insurance Options

Dr. Faherty’s practice proudly accepts most major insurance plans. Please contact your medical insurance provider to find out if your procedure qualifies for insurance coverage or financial assistance. You can also call (410) 328-7320 to find out what plans are accepted.

Office Location and Scheduling an Appointment

Dr. Faherty’s office is located at the address below (click here to get directions):

11340 Pembrooke Square, #203
Waldorf, MD 20603

Ready to learn more or schedule your appointment? Simply call (301) 609-6363 today.

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Holiday Hours for UM Charles Regional and UM Community Medical Group Practices

UM Charles Regional Holiday Hours

The holiday season is upon us, and a few of your local medical practices will be operating under holiday schedules. Read on for additional information regarding closures and adjusted hours as our team prepares to observe the holidays.

As always, our hospital’s emergency room will be open 24/7 throughout the holidays. In the event of an emergency, please dial 9-1-1.

UM Community Medical Group – Surgical Care

11340 Pembrooke Square, Suite 214
Waldorf, MD 20603

100 N. Oak Avenue
La Plata, MD 20646
(301) 609-5006

This locations will be closed on the following days:

  • Christmas Eve (12/24)
  • Christmas Day (12/25)
  • New Year’s Eve (12/31)
  • New Year’s Day (1/1)

This practice will follow its regular schedule for dates not listed above (Monday-Friday, 8am-4pm).

UM Community Medical Group – Women’s Health

605 E. Charles Street
La Plata, MD 20646
(301) 609-4800

The La Plata location will operate under the following holiday schedule:

  • Christmas Eve (12/24) — Closing at Noon
  • Christmas Day (12/25) — Closed
  • New Year’s Eve (12/31) — Closing at Noon
  • New Year’s Day (1/1) — Closed

For dates not highlighted above, this practice will continue to operate under its normal schedule (Monday-Friday, 8am-4:30pm).

UM Community Medical Group – Primary Care

5 N. La Plata Court, Suite 101
La Plata, MD 20646
(301) 609-5044

Dr. Childress’ office will observe the following holiday schedule:

  • Christmas Eve (12/24) — Closing at Noon
  • Christmas Day (12/25) — Closed
  • New Year’s Eve (12/31) — Closing at Noon
  • New Year’s Day (1/1) — Closed

On dates not listed above, the primary care practice will follow its regular schedule (Monday-Tuesday and Thursday-Friday, 8am-4:30pm | Wednesdays, 8am-7pm).

UM Charles Regional Imaging

5 N. La Plata Court, Suite 104
La Plata, MD 20646
(301) 539-0345

Our imaging and radiology practice at the UM Charles Regional Medical Pavilion will operate under the following schedule during the holiday season:

  • Christmas Eve (12/24) — Closing at Noon
  • Christmas Day (12/25) — Closed
  • New Year’s Eve (12/31) — Closing at Noon
  • New Year’s Day (1/1) — Closed

On dates not listed above, this location will operate under its normal schedule (Monday-Friday, 8am-5pm).

UM Charles Regional Rehabilitation

5 N. La Plata Court, Suite 102
La Plata, MD 20646
(301) 609-5494

Our outpatient physical therapy and rehabilitation practice at the UM Charles Regional Medical Pavilion will operate under the following holiday schedule:

  • Christmas Eve (12/24) — Closing at 5pm
  • Christmas Day (12/25) — Closed
  • New Year’s Day (1/1) — Closed

For any dates not listed above, UM Charles Regional Rehabilitation will continue to operate under its normal schedule (Monday-Thursday, 7:30am-7pm | Friday, 7:30am-4pm).

For additional information about these holiday hours or to schedule an appointment, please call the numbers included with each practice, or visit UMCharlesRegional.org for additional information.

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5 Things You Need to Know About Breast Cancer This Month

Breast Cancer This Month

Every year, breast cancer is diagnosed in hundreds of thousands of people across the country, but its effects are felt by millions of people whose friends and family members are dealing with the disease. It’s why we make a point of recognizing Breast Cancer Awareness Month every October, and it’s why it’s so important for everyone to learn the risk factors, the warning signs, and the treatment options available.

We’re sure you’ll hear plenty about it this month. So much, in fact, that you might miss some important facts about breast cancer along the way. But if you only take away a few key items this month, here’s what we think you should know.

The Hard Numbers

According to the latest data from the American Cancer Society (ACS), nearly 270,000 new cases of breast cancer will be diagnosed in both men and women by the end of 2018. It also estimates that over 41,000 people will have passed away due to it. And in Maryland, ACS data indicates that upwards of 10,000 people will succumb to the disease this year alone.

These sobering statistics mean that, even after all this time, breast cancer is still among the most common and dangerous forms of cancer.

The Risk Factors

The National Breast Cancer Foundation notes that one out of every eight women in the United States will be diagnosed at some point in her lifetime, but there are some contributing factors that can increase or decrease a person’s level of risk.

There are a variety of uncontrollable risk factors, such as age, sex, and family history, but the following are just a few of the things you can control that may improve your level of risk:

  • Limiting alcohol consumption
  • Maintaining a healthy weight
  • Consistent physical activity

There are numerous other lifestyle factors that may influence your risk as well, so check out the ACS website to learn more. And be sure to talk with your primary care provider if you have any questions or concerns.

The Real Benefits of Early Detection

Like any form of cancer, early detection is crucial for a patient’s diagnosis. When it’s found early, breast cancer can be treated in one of several ways outlined below, but treatment options are more limited the further the cancer progresses.

Although awareness efforts have gone a long way to promoting the benefits of mammography and early detection in our own state, ACS reports show that just over 75% of women over the age of 40 received a mammogram in the past two years. That means that nearly 20% of women in the age group most affected by breast cancer didn’t have the benefit of early medical imaging detection should issues have arisen.

The Treatment Options Available

Breast cancer can be treated through several different methods, and what treatment options available often depends on the type of breast cancer it is and how far it has spread. Below are the most common forms of treatment available:

  • Surgery
  • Chemotherapy
  • Hormonal therapy
  • Biological therapy
  • Radiation therapy

Visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website to learn more about each type of treatment.

The Best Place to Address Breast Health Issues in Southern Maryland

In just a matter of months, the Julie and Bill Dotson Center for Breast Health will open its doors at the UM Charles Regional Medical Pavilion in La Plata, MD. Led by respected surgeon Dr. Eleanor Faherty, this vital multidisciplinary center will serve as the hub for breast care and breast cancer treatment in Southern Maryland and beyond.

Physicians specializing in surgery, medical oncology, and radiation oncology will provide compassionate care from one central location. Thanks to a gracious and generous six-figure donation from Charles County’s own Julie and Bill Dotson, as well as significant contributions from other members of our community, construction is well underway, and its opening is planned for 2019.

Visit our website to learn more about this practice, and be sure to follow us on Facebook for the latest updates and information regarding the upcoming grand opening.

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Why We’re Raising Awareness About Cervical Cancer This January

Cervical Health Awareness Month

You’ve probably heard about cervical cancer from your doctor, the news or just someone you know. But how much do you know about this form of cancer?

Take some time this January to learn more about cervical cancer, its causes, its treatment options and preventative measures you can take to reduce your chances for developing it.

What is Cervical Cancer?

Cervical cancer is a cancer that starts in a woman’s cervix, which is located on the lower end of the uterus.

What are the Contributing Causes of Cervical Cancer?

Your doctor will be able to help you determine your risk level for developing cervical cancer, but there are a few things to know that will help you better understand your individual risk.

The human papillomavirus (HPV) is one of the leading causes of cervical cancers. Other risk factors include:

  • Smoking
  • Having HIV or another autoimmune disorder
  • Having given birth to three or more children
  • Having several sexual partners
  • Using birth control pills for a long time (five or more years)

HPV is one of the most common STDs in the U.S. It’s so prevalent, in fact, that the CDC notes that most people will contract it at some point in their lives. Fortunately, HPV often goes away on its own over time, and vaccines do exist for it.

Is it Preventable?

Cervical cancer was, at one time, among the most common causes of cancer deaths for American. Today, cervical cancer is actually one of the most highly preventable cancer types in the U.S. as a result of the screening tests and HPV vaccines, according to the CDC.

Although early symptoms and warning signs for cervical cancer are rare, screenings can help doctors detect presence of pre-cancers before they become invasive cancers. A pap test or “pap smear,” as it’s often called, has been proven effective in detecting the disease before it becomes life threatening.

Additionally, HPV tests and vaccines are available to help detect and/or prevent infection of HPV-16 and HPV-18, which are the two strains that are responsible for the vast majority of all cervical cancers.

The American Cancer Society recommends that routine HPV vaccination for girls and boys should begin at age 11 or 12, but your doctor may recommend it get started as early as age 9. While this may seem like a young age to receive a vaccine of this type, the American Cancer Society notes that HPV vaccines produce the strongest immune responses in preteens.

What are the Treatment Options?

Currently, there are no treatments available for HPV, but many genital HPV infections go away with the help of a person’s immune system within two years.

Should you be diagnosed with cervical cancer, however, a variety of treatment options exist. Which treatment(s) you ultimately utilize will vary depending on the stage of the cancer has reached and based on recommendations from your health care provider. The most common treatments for cervical cancer include surgery, radiation therapy, chemotherapy and targeted therapy.

Want to learn more about cervical cancer this month? Be sure to check out our Online Health Library and visit the National Cervical Cancer Coalition website for more information and to find out how you can get involved in spreading awareness all month long. And if you’d like to schedule a preventive screening, checkup or appointment with a women’s health expert, contact UM Community Medical Group – Women’s Health in Charles County today.

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