Medical History with Dr Chris-Ann Simpson Harley
Greek Physician Hippocrates once said, "Wherever the art of medicine is loved, there is also a love of humanity." Dr Chris-Ann Simpson Harley has spent most of her career revolutionising women's health, and today, Flair shares her journey to awe-inspiring medical history.
Harley has always been fascinated by the medical field. It all began at age six when she was first admitted to a hospital for a surgical procedure. Other children might have been scared to walk the halls, let alone gear up to receive medical treatment. But not Harley. She was captivated by the doctors and nurses. She was even enthralled by the intercom system. She made the conscious decision that she would grace the halls again in the future, doing rounds herself as a doctor.
She continued full-speed ahead on her occupational quest, and by the time she was 17, she was already enrolled in medical school at the University of West Indies, Mona campus, having concluded her secondary-level education at both Ardenne High School and Campion College. From there, she started her internship at the Spanish Town Hospital, working in a variety of other government-run institutions for approximately eight years. She decided after her experience that she would specialise in obstetrics and gynaecology. The main reason for this specific pursuit stems from her own life experiences: her struggle with endometriosis.
Harley noted that along the way, she went through abnormally heavier periods. "I found that the popular pad brands that I had used was creating irritation each time I used it. They were just bulky and although popular, I was just tired of feeling that I was wearing a large diaper. And despite their large sizes, I still had to change very frequently. Why couldn't I get a thinner pad that had great absorbency that was cotton and comfortable?"
Missed days at school, several doctor visits - more than she could count - and even trips to the emergency room led her to what she calls her intended life purpose of care giving. It is her belief that everyone deserves to have someone caring for them, especially in their time of need.
"Many girls and women in Jamaica due to uterine fibroids, endometriosis, and polycystic ovarian syndrome face excessive bleeding, pain, hormonal and fertility struggles. This affects their schooling, jobs, and relationships. Daily, I work to make a difference for the women who come with these issues. Women in our population thus tend to have a heavier flow and, as such, are also seeking for the right sanitary products for true comfort and most importantly protection."
Acknowledging the wonderful doctors she has encountered along the way as inspiration for her practice, she also credits her bad encounters with medical professionals as one of the motivations to provide the kind of service to her patients that she would want for herself and her loved ones. Tending to women in their time of need and dealing with these issues came naturally to Harley. After seeing recurring infections, particularly yeast, which is often times not only uncomfortable but disruptive, she used her professional platform to educate women about some of the potential causes of irritation including some sanitary and vaginal products. She discovered talking was just not enough, so she decided to take things a step further, making medical history when she created products to augment the help she could offer: Woman's Touch sanitary napkins and Mother's Embrace maternity pads. The first product of its kind to ever be designed and made by a Jamaican considers the needs of real women both from a medical and scientific perspective.
With an inordinate amount of work, research, and financial capital to bring her dreams to life, the response from women who have tried the products has been wonderful, according to Harley, "The most common comment is 'Finally! Someone understands!' They are super comfortable. It's been wonderful to see your products really make a difference in the way you hope it would. The comfort and the super absorbency of the products have been getting great reviews!"
Having the right support from family and amazing friends who were as excited about the idea as I am, and a strong sense of love for God have also helped to make it possible," admitted the wife and mother of two. "I would love to expand our offering of other feminine products that improve the health and comfort of women everywhere. I created a multipack which has four different sizes of our awesome pads as well as pantyliners in an awesome box. I know my ladies will love the convenience of that when it hits the shelves in August."
All the Woman's Touch products are in Fontana, General Foods, Brooklyn supermarkets and a wide range of pharmacies. Major retailers such as HiLo and Megamart are stocked with the Mother's Embrace maternity pads. Look out for them in a Sugarplum Flair box coming soon.