At WVU Medicine, the experts with the Maternal-Fetal Medicine program are strongly committed to providing world-class care for the women of West Virginia and the surrounding region who have complicated or high-risk pregnancies.
Dr. Annelee Boyle, associate professor and director of Maternal-Fetal Medicine and Labor and Delivery Services for WVU Medicine, said her team specializes in any and everything that could make a pregnancy more complicated.
This includes services for maternal medical disorders — such as diabetes, heart disease, or cancer — or complications with the pregnancy itself, Boyle said.
“If you break your water early, if you’re going into pre-term birth, or if you actually have twins, triplets, quadruplets, etc.,” she said. “Maternal-Fetal medicine is really providing the highest level of care to the patients that need it. At J.W. Ruby Memorial Hospital in Morgantown, we have the ability to provide the highest level of care for both babies and mothers.”
Her team is comprised of six board-certified maternal-fetal medicine specialists.
“We really coordinate care for moms and babies with potentially any other specialist in the hospital,” she said. “So if a baby is going to need heart surgery after birth, we’re coordinating with our pediatric cardiologist, our pediatric cardiothoracic surgeon, our neonatologist, and potentially even our geneticist. Or if a mother has heart disease, we may be coordinating with our adult cardiology specialist or ICU team and our anesthesia colleagues.”
In addition to seeing patients at Ruby Memorial in Morgantown, the specialists with the Maternal-Fetal Medicine program are also able to see patients remotely via telemedicine services, Boyle said.
“We have telemedicine outreach, so if you do what’s called a MyWVUChart video visit, we can actually communicate with you through secure video and telephone links so that you don’t have to drive all the way up to Morgantown if it’s a consult, like looking at sugars for diabetes management,” she said. “Certain things we’re going to have to see you in person for, but this allows us to expand our reach.”
It is also possible to schedule a telemedicine appointment at a number of WVU Medicine’s satellite locations throughout the state, Boyle said.
“We also have telemedicine uplinks, so if you don’t have a smartphone or don’t have cell service where you live, we can also do it through our different satellite offices,” she said. “You can come into the office for a regular OB appointment, then hop on the computer screen with us as well.”
The program regularly serves mothers from Virginia, Maryland, West Virginia, Pennsylvania, and Ohio, Boyle said.
“I will see anybody who walks through my door or calls me up on the phone,” she said. “We are a safety net — we provide care for anybody that others are unwilling or unable to care for.”
The Birthing Center in the new WVU Medicine Children’s Hospital, which is scheduled to open in the summer of 2021, will positively impact the health and wellbeing of the region for generations to come, Boyle said.
“The advantage to Morgantown compared to what you see up in Pittsburgh is that we will not have to separate mom and babies ever,” she said. “So if a mother has a complex cardiac condition, she’ll deliver at the same hospital. Her baby might be in the NICU (neonatal intensive care unit), but they are in the same physical space as opposed to being across town from each other.”
Since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, the experts with the Maternal-Fetal Medicine program have worked to ensure that partners aren’t separated during labor, Boyle said.
“From the very beginning, we advocated for our patients, so that no woman would have to give birth alone,” she said. “I know that has been a big fear, but I would say that our hospital leadership is exceptionally open to providing the best care possible for everybody and really defers to the physicians and nursing staff as the folks who are on the ground advocating for the patients.”