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Expectant parents appreciate coordinated care

Nurse Kelly Powell and Julie Wright take Megan and Mark Postak on a tour of the neonatal intensive care unit.

Nurse Kelly Powell and Julie Wright take Megan and Mark Postak on a tour of the NICU.

After a brief tour of Akron Children’s Hospital’s neonatal intensive care unit, mom-to-be Megan Postak turned to her husband, Mark, and said, “These nurses know what they are doing so I can go home and sleep.”

It was exactly the type of peace of mind the clinical team behind Akron Children’s Hospital’s Fetal Treatment Center was hoping for when they created a new clinic day for expectant parents who learn their unborn child has a genetic condition or birth defect and will need immediate intervention.

Melissa Mancuso performs an ultrasound on Megan.

Melissa Mancuso performs an ultrasound on Megan.

After a fetal ultrasound showed a defect of the spine known as spina bifida, Megan and Mark knew their unborn son would need surgery after birth and would be spending several weeks in Akron Children’s NICU.

Megan and Mark, of Wadsworth, had been doing research since learning of their baby’s diagnosis and had lots of questions. But instead of talking to doctors on separate visits, they got to spend time with their entire medical team assembled in one place.

This included a pediatric neurosurgeon, neurologist, neonatologist, high-risk obstetrician, radiologist, geneticist, and the coordinator of the hospital’s spina bifida clinic.

A morning in March began with Megan getting an ultrasound in the hospital’s Maternal Fetal Medicine Center. She discussed the results with high-risk pregnancy obstetrician Dr. Melissa Mancuso.

After that, Megan and Mark toured the NICU and met several of the nurses who will be caring for their baby. They got to see the Reinberger Family Center, where they are likely to catch a nap or grab a snack while spending long visits with their son, who is due in May.

A team of pediatric specialists meet with Megan and Mark to discuss a plan of care for  their baby.

A team of pediatric specialists meet with Megan and Mark to discuss a plan of care for their baby.

After lunch, they returned to Maternal Fetal Medicine and joined the specialists who were already reviewing the ultrasound images and discussing a plan of care for their baby.

Akron Children’s Fetal Treatment Center, which brings together expertise from maternal fetal medicine, neonatology, medical genetics and other specialists, has served more than 2,000 families since it open in 2002. The goal is provide a bridge between prenatal diagnosis through birth and beyond.

“The center has always provided a wonderful service for families, but this clinic aims to make things easier and more streamlined for families, many of whom travel a distance,” said Dr. Mancuso. “We have consolidated appointments and there is a secondary benefit of bringing doctors of various specialties together to talk, share ideas and plan their treatment.”

Even when doctors say essentially the same thing, patients can interpret the information differently, said Melonie Michelson, Fetal Treatment Center program coordinator.

“They can get mixed messages,” said Michelson. “That’s what’s great about bringing everyone to the same table. It’s kind of magical for patients to see their child’s entire care team together in one room. It’s very reassuring.”

Megan and Mark agree.

“It makes us feel at ease to know everyone is on the same page,” said Megan.

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  1. I’m glad that Akron Children’s Hospital gave Megan and Mark piece of mind. It’s really hard for any parents to hear that their children will have Spina Bifida so that must be going through a lot at the moment.

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