Santa Barbara Women’s Health Coalition (WHC) whose objective is to create a public forum for dialogue and research on local women’s health care needs, will have its inaugural meeting at 4 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 15 at Foster Fitness and Physical Therapy.

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Dr. Katrina Mitchell, a local breast surgeon, lactation consultant, and perinatal mental health provider, formed WHC after receiving support from an op-ed she wrote calling for improvements in local women’s health care.

Setting the stage for a conversation that is inviting to all, Dr. Mitchell selected Kathy Kelley, a non-healthcare affiliated facilitator, to lead the Oct. 15 discussion. Kelley is director of development and alumni relations at Montessori Center School.

The goal of the forum is to arrive at a shared understanding of why women’s health is important to the community, and why this initiative is more important than ever.

Numerous topics fall under the category of women’s health, and the WHC plans to look into the strengths and weakness of local women’s healthcare delivery in areas including adolescence, mental health for teens/college age, maternal health, menopause, LGBTQ+ health, and care for chronic conditions.

“Our goal is to fact find and really evaluate what women are experiencing here so that we can identify what works and what gaps exist,” said Dr. Mitchell.

The WHC plans to present its community needs assessment findings to local health care leaders with hopes of garnering support and resources to make effective change.

Because health care can be very personal, the WHC will honor varying perspectives and emotions tied to every experience.

“We want this forum to be a place where we can share our experiences, listen, and validate concerns,” Dr. Mitchell said. “We aim to facilitate productive and fact-based conversation, and bring women of all professional and personal backgrounds together in community. This will be critical to creating meaningful change in our region.”