Expectant parents never imagine they'll face tough decisions about treatments or surgeries for their unborn babies following a potentially devastating fetal diagnosis. But for thousands of families each year, this is a harsh reality.
For more than 20 years, an experienced team of Vanderbilt experts in obstetrical and pediatric medical and surgical specialty care has helped expectant parents navigate the difficult decision-making process for babies at risk for or born with birth defects or abnormalities.
A new 4,600-square-foot, state-of-the-art maternal fetal clinic space located at Monroe Carell Jr. Children's Hospital at Vanderbilt opened Sept. 13 to allow these specialists to further enhance and grow innovative programming that helps families seek optimal outcomes for their unborn babies.
The Reed Family Maternal Fetal Clinic, located on the ninth floor of Children's Hospital, was supported by a transformative philanthropic gift from Brenda and Colin Reed and family in honor of the life-saving fetal care for their twin granddaughters, Alice and Olivia, now 5.
"This state-of-the-art, technologically advanced, family-centered facility was designed to provide parents with support, comfort, compassion and hope for the best possible outcomes. It is a collaborative effort to ensure that every family receives the special attention and care they deserve," said Kelly A. Bennett, MD, MS, director of the Division of Maternal Fetal Medicine and director of the Fetal Center at Vanderbilt.
The maternal fetal team provides care to more than 2,500 expectant parents from across the country every year, a number that is projected to grow in the coming years. The Junior League of Nashville provided the groundwork for comprehensive maternal fetal care programming at Vanderbilt more than a decade ago when it made a transformative gift to improve care for pregnant women and their infants. The League's vision enabled programming to get off the ground, expand and set the foundation for what is now The Reed Family Clinic.
With the new dedicated clinic space for maternal fetal care, pediatric specialists can expand the size and scope of care to diagnose and treat a range of conditions, including congenital heart defects, spina bifida, pulmonary airway malformations and many more.
"Many of our patients come to the clinic with a heavy heart. No one wants to be a patient in the maternal fetal clinic. This new, beautiful space is peaceful and calming, and hopefully, meeting our team will relieve some of their burden," said Angela White, RN, MSN, NEBC, nurse manager for the maternal fetal clinic.
"Our team always puts families at the center of care and gives them the best education to help them in their decision making and plan of care. We offer a lot of personalized care. Two or three different patients might receive the same diagnosis, but their care might be totally different to fit each individual situation."
The Reed Family Clinic increases space for the maternal fetal team and includes four exam rooms; five ultrasound rooms, each with a private restroom and fitted with the latest ultrasound technology; a genetic counseling room; two consult rooms; and a telemedicine room, which allows specialists to virtually conference as needed for patient consults. A workroom allows sonographers to process ultrasounds on site.
It also includes a dedicated new procedure suite that allows for some fetal therapy procedures to be performed in the Reed Clinic.
Children's Hospital specialists also collaborate with obstetrics experts at Vanderbilt University Medical Center to provide the most complete and convenient care for both the mother and her unborn child.
"The Reed Family Maternal Fetal Clinic provides more capacity to rapidly evaluate mothers with concerns about their unborn babies. Few institutions have such an interdisciplinary team of VUMC maternal fetal and pediatric experts designed specifically around pregnant patients with such needs," said Ronald Alvarez, MD, MBA, chair of the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology.
The Reed Family Clinic location within Children's Hospital is ideal for its proximity to comprehensive, top-ranked pediatric expert care from more than a dozen specialties, including cardiology, neurology, radiology, social work, neonatology, gastroenterology, urology, among others. Families can see all these specialists in a single setting. Additionally, the clinic is also just a short elevator ride away from Children's Hospital's level IV NICU, the highest state and national rating an NICU can earn, reflecting the hospital's expertise in treating the most complex problems facing the tiniest and sickest infants.