In time for Mother's Day, NewYork-Presbyterian and Columbia University Irving Medical Center announced the opening of the Mothers Center, a new space that will provide comprehensive, multidisciplinary care before, during and after a high-risk pregnancy, starting later this month. An innovative approach to maternal health care, the Mothers Center will consolidate all relevant specialists in the same location, where they can collaborate on individual patients' care. It is the first of its kind in the country.
"The Mothers Center serves as a national model for providing expectant mothers with a single point of access to all of the subspecialists they may need during their pregnancy," said Dr. Steven J. Corwin, president and CEO of NewYork-Presbyterian. "We are proud to offer the most comprehensive, collaborative and highest quality care available to optimize the health of women and their babies."
The 5,300-square-foot outpatient center, located at the NewYork-Presbyterian Morgan Stanley Children's Hospital campus on 165th Street and Broadway, is home to four exam rooms, three consult rooms, and meeting spaces that foster collaboration and multidisciplinary care among specialists. Its construction was made possible by a generous gift from Carmen and John Thain.
"Mothers are often the heart and anchor of a family; if mom is sick or absent, the whole family suffers. Our job is to optimize the health of mom to the best of our ability, so that she can be healthy for her family and for herself," said Dr. Mary D'Alton, chair of the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology at NewYork-Presbyterian/Columbia University Irving Medical Center and the visionary behind the Mothers Center. "I am grateful to Carmen and John Thain, NewYork-Presbyterian and Columbia University Irving Medical Center for their focus on maternal health and the opportunity to introduce a model of maternal care that we hope will reduce the high rates of maternal mortality and morbidity we see in New York and across the country."
At the Mothers Center, patients with acute or chronic medical and surgical complications will meet with Maternal Fetal Medicine (MFM) experts as well as specialists from a variety of disciplines, such as cardiology, neurology, surgery and endocrinology. For example, a pregnant woman with heart disease will be seen by her MFM physician and her cardiologist during the same visit instead of traveling to separate offices. Patients will meet with anesthesia experts and will have the option of meeting with a psychologist because of the enormous stress involved for a mother and family dealing with an acute or chronic illness during pregnancy. Care coordinators will streamline and schedule appointments, and specialists from across the medical center will meet regularly with the MFM physicians at the Mothers Center, working as a team to develop customized treatment plans that meet each patient's unique needs and maximize the safety of both mother and baby.
The Mothers Center is equipped to help women with a wide range of serious complications and risk factors, such as lung and heart transplants, hypertension, seizure disorders, and placenta accreta, a condition that increases the risk of premature birth and life-threatening blood loss after delivery. The highest proportion of the Mothers Center's patients have cardiac conditions. Some women may need to see several specialists at the Mothers Center. Patients will have access to other health care experts throughout NewYork-Presbyterian/Columbia University Irving Medical Center.
"Increasingly, women who are considering pregnancy or are already pregnant have significant complexities that require seamless, multidisciplinary collaboration. The reasons for this include delayed childbearing, assisted reproductive technologies and effective management of conditions that in the past would have made pregnancy ill-advised or not possible," said Dr. Leslie Moroz, director of the Mothers Center and assistant professor of maternal fetal medicine and critical care at Columbia University Vagelos College of Physicians and Surgeons. "The center is a phenomenal example of patient-centered care because it brings specialists to the patients while also enhancing their ability to collaborate in patient care. It is a space for providers to act as a team and be seen as a team by their patients."
Additional services that enhance the quality of care include:
- Access to counseling, as well as nutrition and mental health resources.
- Consult rooms optimized for telemedicine so that virtual visits can be offered to patients for their two-week postpartum appointment.
- Integrated follow-up care and research after the baby is born to enable ongoing management of current medical conditions and to prevent future health risks that can arise in women who have complications during pregnancy, such as heart disease and stroke for mothers who experienced preeclampsia.
The Mothers Center comes at a time when the high rate of maternal deaths and "near misses" in the United States has drawn attention as a major public health concern. The rate of severe complications around childbirth has steadily increased in recent years and affects more than 50,000 women every year, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control. An estimated half of all maternal deaths in the U.S. are preventable.
The Mothers Center is co-located and modeled after the Carmen and John Thain Center for Prenatal Pediatrics, an outpatient center that takes the same multidisciplinary approach to fetal complications. The Mothers Center, in turn, focuses on the mother's health. Dr. D'Alton led the opening of both centers.
The gift from Carmen and John Thain to open the Mothers Center was made in memory of Carmen's mother, Angeles Badell, MD, who was a leader in the study of rehabilitation medicine with a focus on pediatric rehabilitation. An expert in the treatment of spina bifida, a birth defect in which a developing baby's spinal cord fails to form properly, Dr. Badell was incredibly dedicated to the well-being of mothers and their families.
The Mothers Center builds on an initiative launched in 2013 at NewYork-Presbyterian/Columbia University Irving Medical Center that coordinates multidisciplinary care for women with high-risk pregnancies. The opening of the Mothers Center provides a physical space for seeing subspecialists on site and for in-person team collaboration and represents the Hospital's ongoing commitment to providing exemplary care for women and children.