On the edge of Old East Dallas, just a few blocks from Baylor University Medical Center, sits a charming red brick house shaded by towering old trees. There isn’t much signage, just a welcoming front porch and plenty of parking. Up the stairs, the sprawling space is split in two. On one side, a glowing neon uterus signals the office of Dallas Midwife Associates. On the other side is Charleston House, a new gynecology practice that’s taking a more modern approach to treating women.
The setting includes wifi, complimentary sparkling water, tufted leather sofas, flower-filled chinoiserie vases, and a pastel painting of Dolly Parton overlooking it all. “I think it’s really beneficial for women to feel good about themselves and the treatment they’re getting, and I think a lot of that is affected by the environment,” Dr. Kamilia Smith says. “You see them walk in, and their shoulders just drop.”
Creating a waiting room that feels more like a spa than a doctor’s office isn’t the only thing that makes Charleston House different. Smith has recruited acupuncturists and a marital therapist, and she works closely with the four midwives next door, who each have their nurse practitioner degree. She’s working to develop a postnatal program and partner with doulas and pelvic floor specialists. “We want women to feel like they can get everything they need at Charleston House,” Smith says. “We want to build a community.”
Smith, with her warm and personable bedside manner, wanted to create a place makes women feel so at ease that they actually want to spend time in a gynecologist’s office. The inspiration came from her patients at Baylor, who wanted to see more of their doctor.
“I got really close to a lot of my patients,” Smith says. “I had some really awesome women look me square in the eye and say, ‘No, this is not enough for you. Do you feel like you could go start something new?’ And I was like, ‘I’ve been dying to.’ I’d like to say that I thought of it all, but Charleston House was really created and driven by them.”
As beneficial as Charleston House’s approach may be to its patients, the unique office environment is just as beneficial to the women Smith employs. “I love that my staff thinks that this is a break from what they’ve ever known,” she says. “That is probably one of the biggest gifts. And the fact that I can have Dolly Parton on the wall is pretty awesome.”
Meet the Experts at Charleston House
Charleston House’s first panel, held this summer, included Dr. Stephanie Burchell, a licensed marriage and family therapist; Veronica Torres Hazley, who educates Dallas’ young Latino community about sexual health; and Dr. Lyndsey Harper, who recently launched Rosy, an app that offers research-based solutions for women suffering from low sex drive. “These are women rewriting the script,” Smith says. “If we can all connect, we can take on some of the things medicine may be lacking for women, no matter their age.” –Ariana Vera and Caitlin Clark
Veronica Torres Hazley
The founder of Healthy Latina Lifestyle wants to create a community for Dallas Latinas to discuss self-care and spiritual wellness. Torres Hazley, who also serves as the director of experience for VisitDallas, has visited Charleston House to share her thoughts on holistic approaches to health as well as her experiences as a teen mom. She believes the personalized environment Smith created may feel more welcoming to women of color. “My gynecologist did not have any empathy for my culture,” Torres Hazley says. “At Charleston House, we can relate to that mi casa es su casa type of feeling.”
Dr. Stephanie Burchell
The therapist and professional colleague of Dr. Smith has spoken at Charleston House about caring for the whole woman, both biologically and psychologically. Beginning this fall, Burchell will drop by Charleston House to offer counseling services. “[Dr. Smith] is going to come across a lot of women who have had some level of trauma or maybe an experience with an STD,” Burchell says. “You’re never more vulnerable than when you’re coming out of an exam. Charleston House provides a safe space that normalizes things. It will be nice to treat the whole woman.”
Dr. Lyndsey Harper
Last year, Harper left her private practice at Baylor to launch Rosy, an app with research-based solutions for women suffering from low libido. “I realized there was legitimate information that women needed, and we needed a way to get it to them,” she says. The app features educational videos, erotic short stories, and self-help sessions led by Dr. Laurie Mintz, a psychologist and author of Becoming Cliterate.