UW Health and UnityPoint Health-Meriter open Wisconsin’s only fetal diagnosis and treatment center
MADISON, Wis. (WMTV) - The launch of the UW Health Fetal Diagnosis and Treatment Center was announced Tuesday.
The new center is a collaboration between UW Health and UnityPoint Health-Meriter to help support pregnant patients and their unborn babies with birth defects before, during, and after birth.
According to UW Health, birth defects affect one in every 33 babies born in the United States. The field of fetal surgery allows for these birth defects to not only be diagnosed long before birth, but new research has allowed for surgical treatment of many conditions before the baby is born.
The center includes maternal-fetal specialists, pediatric surgeons, neonatologists and multiple pediatric sub-specialties. The center helps to bring these services to the expectant family in one convenient appointment, according to Dr. Inna Lobeck, pediatric and fetal surgeon and director of UW Health Fetal Diagnosis and Treatment Center and assistant professor of surgery at the UW School of Medicine and Public Health.
“Our center saves families time, money and emotional stress related to multiple appointments, while also providing personalized care and education every step of the journey,” Lobeck said.
Pregnant patients can also meet with a generic counselor and social worker to help provide support to the family. A fetal surgery coordinator at the center can help guide families every step of the way, from consultations to treatments to supportive care to safely transitioning patients back home, and identifying and addressing barriers along the way.
This is the only fetal surgery center in the state of Wisconsin. This comprehensive center can evaluate, diagnose and perform fetal intervention when warranted, as well as offer delivery and care after birth, according to Lobeck.
The center also manages a variety of conditions, including congenital heart defects, urinary tract defects, spinal cord defects, gastrointestinal and lung defects, as well as complex twin conditions.
“With the development of fetal surgery, we are able to offer families hope where there once wasn’t any. Thirty years ago, many of these conditions were untreatable, often resulting in pregnancy loss or poor quality of life,” Lobeck said. “Now we can offer an opportunity to intervene early and change that.”
In the past, patients would need to be referred out of state if they required prenatal surgery, sometimes forcing them to live away from home before delivery, Lobeck said.
“The Center for Perinatal Care has been providing excellent care to high-risk pregnant patients and those with fetal concerns for the past 20 years,” Sherry Casali, chief nursing executive and vice president of patient care at UnityPoint Health–Meriter, said. “Now, with the UW Health Fetal Diagnosis and Treatment Center, patients can access fetal treatment here in Wisconsin rather than being referred to surrounding states. We are tremendously excited to support this growth and innovation in fetal diagnostics and treatment.”
The UW Health Fetal Diagnosis and Treatment center began seeing patients in March 2022.
The new center is located at the UnityPoint Health-Meriter Center for Perinatal Care.
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