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Digestive Health

Comprehensive Women's Gastrointestinal Health Services

Women & Infants Center for Women's Gastrointestinal Health offers a comprehensive, multi-disciplinary focus on problems with the gastrointestinal system of women, in a setting staffed by all female practitioners.

Please be advised that this location is a provider-based clinic and both a physician and facility fee will be assessed, which may result in a higher out-of-pocket expense.

Contact Information:

Center for Women's Gastrointestinal Health
100 Dudley Street
3rd Floor
Providence, RI 02905
P: ( 401) 453-7953

No Show Policy 
We have a policy for missed appointments at all Women & Infants Hospital's physician practices. If you need to reschedule or cancel an appointment, please give us at least 24 hours notice.

Care New England Motility Center

Symptoms attributed to suspected motility disorders are the most commonly reported symptoms in the field of Gastroenterology.

Our multidisciplinary clinical team aims to provide the best diagnostic and therapeutic options for all motility disorders, ranging from common to very rare. 

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Our Services

Colonoscopy

Colonoscopy allows the doctor to exam the lining of your colon (large intestine) for abnormalities. The doctor will insert a flexible tube (colonoscope) as thick as your finger into the anus and pass it through your colon. The lining of the bowel is checked to see if there are any problems such as inflammation or polyps (growths). Sometimes it is helpful to take a biopsy - a sample of the lining of the bowel. 

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Endoscopy

An upper endoscopy is a procedure that allows your doctor to see inside your esophagus (food tube), stomach, and duodenum (first part of your small intestine).

Digestive disorders are very common, especially in women. An upper endoscopy can be a useful tool in diagnosing and treating these problems. 

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Colorectal Cancer Screening

Colorectal Cancer is one of the most common cancer diagnoses for both men and women. Symptoms vary depending on the location of the cancer within the colon or rectum, though there may be no symptoms at all. Screenings can detect colorectal cancer when it can still be treated. But screening rates for women are still quite low. We offer colonoscopies in one of the nation's few all-female endoscopy centers.

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Conditions We Treat

  • Gastroesophageal reflux (GERD)
  • Celiac Disease
  • Gastrointestinal disorders in pregnancy
  • Diarrhea
  • Stomach and intestinal problems
  • Incontinence

  • Swallowing disorders
  • Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)
  • Hepatitis and other liver diseases
  • Colorectal cancer screening
  • Inflammatory bowel disease
  • Constipation
  • C-Difficile disease

Digestive Disorders FAQs

How common are Hepatitis B and C in women?
The prevalence of Hepatitis C among American women varies with age and race, although it is estimated that close to 1 percent of women of childbearing age have the virus. The prevalence of Hepatitis B varies even more based upon race and age, with the Asian population being particularly affected now. An estimated total of .66 percent of American women of childbearing age is Hepatitis B positive.
Can a woman with Hepatitis C have a baby?
Yes, women who are Hepatitis C positive can get pregnant and deliver healthy babies. Approximately 3 percent of their infants will acquire the infection. As part of prenatal care, it is very important that women tell their health care providers of possible risk factors for diseases like Hepatitis C to protect their babies. If a woman is identified as positive, the risk of passing the infection to the baby can be reduced by decreasing the length of labor after the membranes are broken and avoiding scalp monitors during delivery. Babies born to mothers who are Hepatitis C positive must be tested at three, 12 and 18 months of age. Therapy is available for children who are infected.
What is irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) and what are its symptoms?
The causes of IBS are not understood but it is believed faulty movement of the intestine causes an accumulation of gas and bacteria in the bowel, which causes irregular bowel movements, a sensation of bloating sensation, and cramping.
How is IBS the same and/or different from inflammatory bowel disease (IBD)?
With IBS, the movement of the intestine is altered but the lining of the intestine is normal. With IBD, which includes Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis, the lining of the intestine becomes inflamed and ulcerated, causing bleeding, infection, scarring with narrowing and even blockage of the intestine. The two diseases often manifest similarly at the beginning with cramps and diarrhea but if IBD is not treated, it can lead to serious complications and even colon cancer.
How is IBD treated?
There are many medications - including newer and more potent ones - available to help control IBD by working to decrease inflammation in the intestine. Many patients never require surgery.
Are IBS and IBD more common in women?
Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis, which are the most common forms of IBD, probably occur with the same frequency in men and women, although some studies suggest that Crohn's may be slightly more frequent in women.
Are there any gastrointestinal disorders related to pregnancy?
Pregnancy exacerbates almost all gastrointestinal disorders, from gastro esophageal acid reflux to IBS and IBD. Gallstone formation is enhanced and hepatitis and liver disease may get worse during pregnancy. In addition, there are a few specific gastrointestinal diseases that occur only during pregnancy. Hyperemesis gravidarum, for example, is a very extreme form of morning sickness that can lead to serious complications for the mother, including kidney failure and neurological issues, and fetal loss. In addition, pregnancy can also lead to cholestasis, which blocks the flow of bile from the liver; preeclampsia; and acute fatty liver.
What are the symptoms of colorectal cancer?
Symptoms vary depending on the location of the cancer within the colon or rectum, though there may be no symptoms at all. The most common presenting symptom is rectal bleeding. Cancers arising from the left side of the colon generally cause bleeding, and in their late stages may cause constipation, abdominal pain and obstructive symptoms. On the other hand, right-sided colon cancer may produce vague abdominal aching or weakness, weight loss and anemia from chronic blood loss.
Can colorectal cancer be prevented? How?

Screenings can detect CRC when it can be treated. In the meantime, certain practices have been identified as protecting the body against CRC, including:

  • Diet high in fruits and vegetables, and low in red meat, animal fat and/or cholesterol
  • Folic acid, vitamin B6 and calcium
  • Regular physical activity and maintenance of normal body weight
  • Smoking cessation
  • Regular use of aspirin or nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs
  • Hormone replacement therapy in postmenopausal women, although these drugs are not routinely recommended for chemoprevention of colon cancer due to the associated long-term risks
  • HMG-CoA reductase inhibitors (statins), although data is conflicting
Who should be screened? How often?

Screenings can detect CRC when it can be treated. For individuals at normal risk, screening tests should begin at age 50. The preferred approach is a screening colonoscopy conducted every 10 years. In addition, consider the following recommendations for screening:

  • Physician experts with the American College of Gastroenterology issued new recommendations that CRC screening in African Americans begin at age 45
  • Colonoscopic surveillance needs to be performed at more frequent intervals for individuals at high risk for colon cancer (for instance, those with a personal history of CRC or adenomatous polyps, family history of CRC, HNPCC, FAP or IBD)
  • An alternate strategy consists of annual stool test for blood and a flexible sigmoidoscopic exam every three to five years

Meet the Gastroenterology Team

Christy L. Dibble, DO

Christy L. Dibble, DO, is director of the Women & Infants Center for Women’s Gastrointestinal Health and chairs the Women & Infants Multidisciplinary Gastrointestinal Tumor Board. She graduated from the University of New England College of Osteopathic Medicine and completed a residency and gastroenterology fellowship at The Warren Alpert Medical School of Brown University. 

Mariam Fayek, MD

Mariam Fayek, MD, attended Howard University College of Medicine where she was a member of the Alpha Omega Alpha Medical Honor Society. She then went on to pursue an internal medicine residency at New York Presbyterian Hospital Cornell Weill Medical Center in New York City. 

Nnenna C. Okpara, MD

Nnenna C. Okpara, MD is a gastroenterologist at the Center for Women’s Gastrointestinal Health. She graduated summa cum laude from the University of Houston, and went on to earn her medical degree from Columbia University College of Physicians & Surgeons in New York City. 

Nancy Botelho, NP

Nancy Botelho, NP, is a registered nurse practitioner with Women & Infants’ Center for Women’s Gastrointestinal Health. She is a board certified family nurse practitioner. Ms. Botelho earned her degree from the University of Rhode Island, where she is also an adjunct professor in the Department of Nursing. Her interests include patients with Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD). 

Autumn P. Hines, DO, Gastroenterologist

Autumn Hines, DO, graduated from the University of Virginia. She attended medical school at the DeBusk College of Osteopathic Medicine. After completing her medical degree, she completed both her internal medicine residency and gastroenterology fellowship at Kent Hospital in Warwick, RI.

Samantha Colli, PA-C

Samantha Colli, PA-C, is a physician assistant at Women & Infants Center for Women’s Gastrointestinal Health. Samantha graduated with her master of science in physician assistant studies from Johnson & Wales University. Her clinical interests include inflammatory bowel disease and disorders of the liver.