Intermountain Primary Children’s Hospital is celebrating the opening of a new state-of-the-art fetal care center that provides a one-stop multidisciplinary approach to the care of expecting mothers whose babies have complex conditions while in the womb.
The Utah Fetal Center operates in partnership between Intermountain Primary Children’s Hospital and University of Utah Health to ensure that a mother whose child has been diagnosed with a birth defect can receive highly-specialized care before, and after, the child is born.
Sometimes, this care includes a surgical intervention while the child is still in the womb.
“We have a multidisciplinary team with doctors for both the mother and baby who have expertise in fetal medicine and surgery, and who work together to compassionately care for these complicated patients,” said Stephen Fenton, MD, a pediatric surgeon with University of Utah Health and Intermountain Primary Children’s Hospital, and director of the Utah Fetal Center. “We want to ensure that moms and babies get the highest level of care possible both during pregnancy and after birth here in the Intermountain West.”
The Utah Fetal Center is part of Intermountain Healthcare’s “Primary Promise” to create the nation’s model health system for children. This multi-faceted plan and investment of at least $500 million in children’s health will be shared by Intermountain Healthcare and community philanthropic support through an emerging campaign organized by Intermountain Foundation.
Cali Budge of Lehi, Utah, discovered how crucial it is to have the Utah Fetal Center’s specialty services close to home. During her 20-week ultrasound exam, doctors discovered a congenital pulmonary airway malformation (CPAM) in her unborn baby. The malformation occurs when part of the lung is abnormally developed and can compress the baby’s developing heart and lungs. It may require intervening prior to delivery. In most cases, the child will require removal of the malformation at some point after birth, either immediately or within a few months.
Originally Cali was going to travel to Philadelphia to receive care, but didn’t want to be away from her husband and two children in Utah for a long period of time. After undergoing consultation at the Utah Fetal Center, she realized that she and her child could receive this highly-specialized care closer to home.
“During my consultation I spoke with the surgeon, the high-risk obstetrician, neonatologist, social worker, and others from the team that would care for me and my baby. I didn’t have to make any calls or travel around to multiple medical offices — it was all in one place,” said Budge. “As an expecting mother already going through the stress of this situation, it was comforting to have that.”
At the Utah Fetal Center, mothers are evaluated by a multidisciplinary team consisting of a Maternal Fetal Medicine doctor (high-risk obstetrics), multiple pediatric subspecialists, and additional personnel, such as a social worker, that will care for them and their babies before and after birth.
Together, this team reviews imaging and tests to establish a plan that will optimize the care of both mom and the baby during pregnancy and after delivery. The team also meets weekly at a fetal care conference to discuss each patient’s plan as the pregnancy progresses. Additionally, a dedicated fetal nurse coordinator helps the mother during this challenging time.
Cali’s daughter, Noelle, was delivered at term without complication. She was then cautiously cared for until she underwent surgery where the abnormal portion of her lung was removed through several small incisions. She was released from the hospital a few days after surgery and is now a happy and healthy 16-month-old.
“We know what a difficult time this can be for an expecting parent,” said Dr. Fenton. “We want to make sure that they know that there is a team of experts here to help them through this process, and to give them the best chance possible of having a happy outcome for their child.”