HOLYOKE — Whether she’s delivering a baby, performing laparoscopic surgery or educating a woman about birth control options, Dr. Gretchen Loebel’s job puts her on top of the world.
“Delivering a baby is just the biggest blast that you’ve ever had in your entire life. And working in OB/GYN is fantastic — you get to do surgery, spend time in the hospital, spend time in the office seeing outpatients,” said Holyoke Medical Center’s newest OB/GYN physician, who came to HMC recently from St. Francis Hospital in Hartford, Conn.
“You get to see young, healthy women having uncomplicated pregnancies and you get to branch out into areas such as treating women for cancer. It’s a good place for an adrenaline junkie,” said Loebel, who spends her busy days working out of HMC’s fifth floor suite at Western Mass. OB/GYN Associates, where she sees patients for everything from annual examinations and pregnancy check-ups to pelvic pain, vaginal bleeding, and cancer.
With her physician’s assistant Elana Davidson, Loebel has filled the void left by Dr. Bruce Morris, who is doing a fellowship at St. Francis Hospital, where Loebel completed her residency and worked as an attending physician before coming to Holyoke.
Loebel is a skilled laparoscopic surgeon with special training in oncology that she received at St. Francis Hospital.
Laparoscopic surgery, performed using a tiny camera on the end of a needle, eliminates the need for large incisions and allows for much shorter hospital stays and faster recovery with less discomfort. In the case of laparoscopic tubal ligations, for example, women can usually go home the same day following surgery and return to work almost immediately.
Loebel also recently published an article on vaginal birth after caesarean section in the Journal of Maternal, Fetal and Neonatal Medicine. She feels strongly about educating women about their options in childbirth and particularly about birth control.
“A lot of women just don’t know what’s out there,” she said. Birth control options today include patches, absorbable vaginal rings, three-month shots, IUDs and new kinds of birth control pills, one of which allows a woman to have her period only once every four months, Loebel said.
“I like chatting with my patients every day, and giving each of them the individualized attention they need,” she said.
One of nine children who grew up in Melbourne, Fla., Loebel said she always knew she wanted to be a doctor. Visiting the hospital where her mother worked as a clinical chemist, watching the doctors and nurses in their professions and curiously inspecting things the phlebotomist showed her, further sparked her interest.
She graduated from Eckerd College in St. Petersburg, Fla., married in 1988 and moved to Hadley to raise her three sons. Her grandfather, cousins and uncle own Cook Farm, home of Flayvors Restaurant in Hadley, in a neighborhood where 17 of her parents’ 19 grandchildren stayed during the past summer.
Loebel delivered her sister’s fourth child last year and will deliver her fifth soon.