The health of mothers, infants, and children is vital to a healthy community. This population is particularly vulnerable to certain health risks when encountered during pregnancy and early childhood. The mental and physical development of infants and children is affected by the behaviors of their mothers during pregnancy.
In Upson County alone, the rate for low birthweight babies is 9.4%, 65th in Georgia. That’s why Upson Women’s Services now offers MFM (Maternal Fetal Medicine) to moms with high risk pregnancies. Most MFM providers are based in large tertiary care centers. However, studies show that there is a need for sub-specialty OB care in rural areas. Dr. Nic Psomiadis agrees that rural location should not limit access to excellent care. "The scope of maternity care here at Upson will continue to be taken to the next level. We are committed to providing the latest and most technologically advanced services for our patients. This will be big city care in a small town environment," he said.
It’s a need. Dr. Joy Baker estimates 50-60% of local patients are high risk due to medical problems developed before or during pregnancy, and the closest MFM physician is located in Macon or Columbus; both of which are an hour away. Local MFM allows for specialized care for high risk pregnancies with risk factors such as diabetes, high blood pressure, maternal obesity, and heart problems right here in Thomaston, saving the expenses of time and travel.
“With some of our patients having limited transportation, this is a great way to bring technology here locally so we can have better follow up for our patients,” said Dr. Hugh Smith.
This service provides MFM ultrasound and consults for chronic, but stable, maternal or fetal complications. It operates off of sophisticated technology, similar to FaceTime, which allows patients to interact in real time with an MFM specialist via the Women’s Telehealth Network. Susan Buchanan, RN and Registered Diagnostic Medical Sonographer who has been performing fetal ultrasound at Upson since 1987, was impressed with her first experience with telemedicine service. "It was not a cold and technical encounter, it was warm and interactive. I could tell our patient was actively engaged and felt reassured,” she said. The same ultrasonographer’s patients have come to know and love at our OB/GYN offices have been training to capture the images required for higher level ultrasound, and will continue to be an integral part of high risk pregnancy care.
“We are extremely excited about offering specialist consults to our patients,” said Dr. Joy Baker. “It’s a great way to care for moms and babies closer to home and turn high risk pregnancies into low risk deliveries,” she added.