A new High-Risk Pregnancy Center, also known as a maternal-fetal medicine—or MFM—clinic, opened at Memorial Hermann Cypress Hospital July 10. The Center provides the type of high-risk services that women would have previously had to travel to the Cypress-Fairbanks Medical Center Hospital to receive.
Services include on-site diagnostic testing, genetic counseling and specialized care from MFM specialists affiliated with UTHealth, a comprehensive academic health university in Texas. A variety of advanced tests are used to monitor fetal development, including biophysical profiles, amniocentesis and noninvasive prenatal testing, officials said.
The Center will serve a crucial role in the Cypress community, said Dr. Sean Blackwell, an MFM physician at the clinic. Blackwell said up to 40 percent of women have some high-risk aspect to their pregnancy.
"A woman can be high-risk due to having chronic medical conditions such diabetes or high blood pressure, having advanced maternal age, having twins or triplets or having complications in a prior pregnancy," he said.
The clinic is currently opened on Mondays, but Blackwell said hours or operation will expand as demand in the community grows. The clinic could be open two days a week as soon as mid-September, he said.
"With the population growth out in Cypress, with all the young people having babies and some of them having medical problems or complications, we know there’s a community need," he said.
The Center also partners with local physicians in the area so patients can stay with their private doctors throughout their pregnancies. Patients need referrals from their OB/GYNs to schedule MFM services.
“We partner with a woman’s OB/GYN to identify potential complications earlier and make sure that both mother and baby remain healthy through the duration of the pregnancy and delivery," Blackwell said. "Some women may visit once, while others may receive collaborative care throughout their pregnancy.”
In rare cases where women are in need of higher level care—including women who go into labor very early and women who need to go to the intensive care unit—physicians at the Center transfer patients to the Children's Memorial Hermann Hospital in the Texas Medical Center, where they can be treated in a Level IV Neonatal Care Unit.
"They are rare, but when you have them you need an insider to make that transition smooth," Blackwell said. "Going from Cypress to the [Texas] Medical Center can be hard to navigate."
All doctors at the clinic are employed by the UTHealth medical school as assistant professors, associate professors or full professors, Blackwell said.
"Not only do we take care of patients, but we also teach the next generation of doctors, medical professionals and nurses," he said. "There is an academic aspect to how they take care of patients; we’re following guidelines, using the latest evidence and cutting-edge research. That all translates into taking care of patients better."