Long before an infant is born at Hurley Medical Center, Hurley provides advanced level prenatal care to pregnant moms. As home to the area’s highest-level NICU, Hurley has the resources to handle high-risk pregnancies and then some.
Choosing Hurley for OB-GYN services means that the first major decision you make on behalf of your baby is taking exceptional care of yourself.
“Hurley has the reputation for being a high-risk center, but that doesn’t mean that’s all we do,” says Atinuke Akinpeloye, MD, FACOG. “Maybe our proportion of high-risk patients is a little higher than some other places, but we see people with every kind of condition.”
At the Hurley Women’s Services & OB-GYN Clinic, they handle regular pregnancies and patients with conditions that can be worsened during pregnancy, such as high blood pressure issues, diabetes, cardiovascular issues, heart problems, and gastrointestinal problems, according to Dr. Akinpeloye.
Typical patients fall within the key reproductive years (ages 15-44) and beyond, as well as those with chronic illnesses or a history of premature births. Women who are expecting twins, triplets or other multiples would be wise to check out Hurley’s services, which boast physicians specializing in Maternal Fetal Medicine (MFM) and the region’s only diabetes co-management program.
“The difference between our practice and the practices out in the community would be that we take care of people that some other OB-GYNs might not be comfortable taking care of,” says Dr. Akinpeloye. “Anything that could possibly go wrong with a person can also show up in a pregnant mom,” she adds.
Hurley works with local OB-GYNs in the community to provide women with the best care possible during their pregnancies. The diabetes co-management program, located at the hospital’s main campus, has a team of nurses specializing in the care of diabetes during pregnancy. Women come in either once or twice a week, depending on the severity of their diabetes, while continuing to receive regular prenatal care from their OB-GYN.
With more severe diabetes, the patient’s OB-GYN might decide to transfer care exclusively to the Hurley clinic. Similarly, in cases where the primary OB-GYNs might not have necessary resources in their offices, they can transfer care of the patient to Hurley’s clinic for the entire course of the pregnancy or send patients to Hurley’s Maternal Fetal Medicine (MFM) subspecialist for a consult.
Maternal Fetal Medicine is one of four subspecialties for OB- GYN physicians. The training is a long and rigorous prospect that entails learning a lot of complex processes and highly specific information, says Dr. Akinpeloye, adding, “They take the most qualified and the best people.”
Robert Welch, MD, is a Maternal Fetal Medicine specialist at Hurley. Just like a general internist can treat asthma in a patient, Dr. Welch says that general OB-GYNs can tackle high-risk pregnancies and manage a lot of complications, but if it’s too severe he advises seeing the OB-GYN equivalent of a pulmonologist, which is an MFM specialist.
“We have extra training–usually it’s a three-year fellowship, focused on the management of hypertension, diabetes and other types of complications of pregnancy,” he says.
“The advantage is you have somebody on board who has vast experience in those areas.”
According to Dr. Welch, women generally develop diabetes about 7% of the time, and there are similar rates of preeclampsia. He says that women who conceive later in life, either by choice or necessity, often need Maternal Fetal Medicine because their age can lead to higher rates of these and other conditions.
“When you’re older, and pregnant your risk for a genetic disorder in the baby is greater, the risk for birth defects in the baby is greater, so it’s useful to have people around experienced in diagnosing such things,” he says.
While MFM specialists have been around for a while, certain tools of the trade have changed over the years. Ultrasound has gotten very sophisticated, enabling more accurate and earlier prenatal diagnosis of possible complications, especially with the advent of 3-D ultrasound.
Ethnicity-based screenings for genetic disorders have been replaced with blood panels that enable screening without needing to know a patient’s ethnicity. And, of course, Maternal Fetal Medicine patients benefit from Hurley’s NICU, which Dr. Welch compares to peanut butter and jelly in that the tertiary care provided on the prenatal and delivery side complements the care available after birth. Because the essence of Maternal Fetal Medicine is two-fold, encompassing both mother and baby, Hurley partners with Michigan Medicine to provide a team of pediatric cardiologists and pediatric surgeons for patients.
“If there are any cardiac conditions that we might have picked up on a routine ultrasound or if we suspect there might be a cardiac malformation in the baby, those are the patients that the pediatric cardiologist would see,” says Dr. Akinpeloye.
Pediatric Cardiologists perform fetal echocardiograms to determine the best place for the infant to be safely born–either Hurley or U of M. Likewise, infants born at Hurley are seen by Michigan Medicine pediatric surgeons to determine whether there is a need for further pediatric surgical interventions.
One of Hurley’s greatest strengths is its status as a teaching hospital, with 16 OB-GYN residents and faculty dedicated to teaching them. Because they apply the latest, and best techniques and evidence-based guidelines to their care, Hurley’s program gets better outcomes, Dr. Akinpeloye says, noting that there is always a dedicated OB-GYN physician in-house to help out either the community OB-GYN physicians whose patients come here or to take care of patients who come through the ER. Babies are unpredictable, she says, so when a patient’s OB-GYN can’t make it to the birth in time, Hurley has an OB-GYN available 24/7, who can step in without missing a beat.
While Hurley is known for providing top-level care for area newborns, it truly all starts with mom. Contact Hurley’s OB-GYN/Maternal Fetal Medicine Clinic at 810.262.9751 or call 810.969.4500 for OB-GYN physicians and midwifery services in Fenton, Clio, Flint, Grand Blanc, or Lapeer.
As seen in #KudosMagazine 5.3
Written by Jennifer Kreft
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