Health

A New Medical Practice on U Street Is Reimagining Women’s Health

Liv by Advantia Health, which begins seeing patients on March 30, is a gorgeous, patient-friendly space.

Liv's entry lobby. Photograph by Courtney Beglin of Liv by Advantia Health.

There’s a new spot opening next week on U Street that wants to redefine women’s healthcare. Liv is a comprehensive medical practice for women that combines obstetrics, gynecology, primary care, and mental wellness all under one roof.

It’s the brainchild of Advantia Health, an Arlington medical group that uses technology to help streamline the women’s healthcare experience. While the group has acquired and operates a series of practices throughout the country, Liv is its first flagship location built from the ground up. It’s also its first location to incorporate a bevy of medical services under one roof.

One of the seating areas in Liv’s lobby. Photograph by Courtney Beglin of Liv by Advantia Health.
The mental health room. Photograph by Courtney Beglin of Liv by Advantia Health.

The membership-based space, which will officially start seeing patients March 30, is all about integrative care. Instead of going to one office to see their ob-gyn, another to see their primary care provider, and another to meet with their mental health counselor, Liv’s clients can have access to all of those providers in one spot, and their doctors can work with one another.

“We really thought about the busy women, and all the competition we have for our time,” says Christine Loftsgaarden, Advantia’s vice president of growth and operations. “And healthcare often takes a backseat, unfortunately, so we want to make this the most convenient experience possible.”

Prioritizing innovation is the best way to do that, says Sharon Kressel, the lead ob-gyn at Liv. “I realized there’s so much that goes into the healthcare experience. And if we as physicians aren’t embracing the technology, we’re really going to be left behind,” she says. “If you can book a hair appointment online, you should be able to book a doctor’s appointment online.”

Liv has eight exam rooms, some of which are located along this hallway. Photograph by Courtney Beglin of Liv by Advantia Health.
Liv’s exam rooms were purposefully decorated so that it doesn’t feel as if you’re in a doctor’s office. Photograph by Courtney Beglin of Liv by Advantia Health.
There is a vanity in each exam room that patients can use to hang their clothes and freshen up before leaving. Photograph by Courtney Beglin of Liv by Advantia Health.

The annual membership for Liv clients is $199, and it accepts most insurance. Perks include being able to text with your care coordinator (who can help you manage referrals and and book appointments), schedule a same-day appointment, and take advantage of Liv’s flexible hours for early-morning or late-evening appointments. The group also sees patients via telemedicine, and has its own on-site sonography and lab services. All members also get free same-day prescription delivery via the group Capsule, as well as access to the Pacify app, which provides 24/7 access to maternal and pediatric professionals for things like lactation consults.

Another perk: The Alda Ly Architecture-designed space is beautiful. In a far cry from the typical stuffy, no-windows waiting room, Liv’s lobby opens to the street with floor-to-ceiling windows. Mid-century furniture in peaceful tones is stationed across the light wood floors, with one seating area designated for patients to sit quietly and another for folks who want to chat. Succulents abound, and there are plenty of tables and outlets for members to pull out laptops and do work between appointments, or if they just happen to be in the area.

There’s no check-in desk, either. Instead, guests sign in online in advance—all they have to do is walk up to a stand and give their name. While they wait, there’s a women-focused library of books by authors such as Glennon Doyle and Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie.

Guests are welcomed into the clinical area via a series of curved archways and a skylight. Spaced along a colorful hallway are eight exam rooms and a sonography room, and you won’t find the typical posters about toe fungus or flu season tips on the walls. Each room has its own vanity for customers, where they can store their clothes during appointments and touch up in the mirror afterwards. Abstract, neon-light art lines the walls, and outside each exam room door is an Art Deco-esque light fixture that, yes, kind of looks like a pair of boobs (this was intentional, the designers say).

In the staff area, there’s a brightly painted lounge with glass walls that open to a patio, and phone booths covered in trendy wallpaper for telemedicine appointments. And the staff kitchen is the thing of HGTV dreams—think white counters, a geometric backsplash, and a mod bubble light hanging over the island. There’s also a mother’s room both for staff and patients, and the latter is open to public use on the Mamava app.

While Covid obviously isn’t the most ideal time to open a new business (Liv was originally supposed to launch last fall, but the pandemic delayed it), the group is taking precautions: Everyone will be masked, the space will be cleaned thoroughly on a regular schedule, and, says Dr. Kressel, it has a high-quality air system.

Post-Covid, Liv plans to host events for its clients focused on women’s health and partner with local businesses. Further down the road, the group may add services such as acupuncture or physical therapy, says Loftsgaarden, and plans to open additional Liv sites. 

Meanwhile, the group will continue adapting with its patients’ needs and the tech landscape. “[At] Advantia, we wanted an ability to truly innovate,and be able to try things differently,” says Loftsgaarden. “That’s really how Liv came about.”

Liv by Advantia Health; 1443 U St. NW

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Mimi Montgomery Washingtonian
Associate Editor

Mimi Montgomery joined Washingtonian in 2018. Her work has appeared in Outside Magazine, Washington City Paper, DCist, and PoPVille. Originally from North Carolina, she now lives in Petworth.