Women do not have to travel far to receive best-in-class health care in obstetrics and gynecology. NuHealth general obstetrics services are widely regarded as one of the region’s top practices. That’s not just their opinion; there is supporting data to back it up.
- NUMC has the lowest rate of Caesarean sections of all Long Island hospitals with OB practices today.
- NUMC’s physicians are ranked by Castle Connelly and Consumer Research Council of America as among the best in the state. Dr. Chaur-Dong Hsu, chairman of OB/GYN at NUMC, has been included in the 2009-2010 Best Doctors in America database.
- NUMC is staffed with experienced nurses who have special training in neonatal resuscitation, advanced cardiac life support and fetal monitoring.
- NUMC offers Long Island’s only water-birthing tub.
- NUMC is now surpassing hospitals from New York State by guiding more pregnancies to full term, avoiding expensive and risky admissions to its neonatal intensive care unit. The Healthcare Association of New York Hospital Specific Obstetric Report found that NUMC’s NICU admission percentage has been significantly below the state average, which is a good thing.
However, those are only statistics, impressive though they are. When it comes to preventing unnecessary procedures or even saving lives, NuHealth’s interdisciplinary approach has stepped up to the challenge.
Here are some cases:
Anne Marie Ballato, uninsured and pregnant, was suffering from a dangerous heart condition when she came to NUMC. Ballato was diagnosed with hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, a hereditary disorder in which abnormal thickening of the heart muscle can obstruct the flow of blood. It can cause potentially fatal rhythm disturbances and heart failure. Several of Bellato’s family members died from the disorder. When she became pregnant, her risks as a patient were deemed too great for many other hospitals in the region. She was turned away, in part because she lacked insurance.
NUMC’s interdisciplinary team worked collaboratively – and fast. When Ballato’s symptoms worsened, the team successfully delivered her daughter at 36 weeks. A few days later, Ballato received an implanted defibrillator, giving her a new lease on life.
“This department is focusing a lot on the quality of care and in improving the outcome,” said Dr. Hsu, who recalled two recent cases where fast action and sound care came into play.
The first case was a 28-year-old mother who was 39 weeks into her second pregnancy. She arrived in distress. Hsu and his rapid response team quickly and accurately diagnosed the problem: a posterior uterine wall rupture.
The majority of these ruptures occur in the anterior.
“Posterior is very rare, maybe 1 in 2,000 instances,” Hsu said.
In 85 percent of the cases the woman will lose her uterus and doctors will have to perform a hysterectomy. “Our team identified very quickly what the problem was,” Dr. Hsu said. He credited Dr. Elsie Santana-Fox, an obstetrician/gynecologist at NUMC, with saving the woman’s uterus.
“Quick response is critical. If you delay, the mom could die,” Hsu said. “The patient recovered very well thanks to our interdisciplinary team.”
The second case involved a 33-year-old woman late into her third pregnancy. Her condition: “placenta percreta,” which is a severe complication involving an abnormally deep attachment of the placenta through the endometrium and into the middle layer of the uterine wall known as the myometrium.
Women who encounter placenta percreta during childbirth are at great risk of hemorrhaging during its removal. Placenta percreta is rare, affecting approximately 1 in 2,500 pregnancies.
“Almost 90 percent of patients will lose their uterus,” Hsu said, adding that many could die from the hemorrhaging. Once again, the interdisciplinary team came through, and again Dr. Santana-Fox was able to save the woman’s uterus, Hsu said.
These two critical-care cases occurred one week apart.
“I was so proud,” Hsu said. “I’m happy to work here. We see a lot of patients with no insurance, who are poor and indigent. Our team provides great quality care. I try to make sure we’re compared against the national benchmark.”
The Caesarean section rate in the United States is around 33 percent, a number that has steadily climbed over the years. In Nassau County, it is 41 percent and in Suffolk it is 42 percent, Hsu said. At NUMC it has been at 26 percent for the last five years. His goal is to bring it down to less than 20 percent.
“Our department continues to be recognized as a high quality and safety compliant obstetric care facility in New York State,” Hsu said. “It’s a tribute to our staff’s interdisciplinary teamwork and an educational commitment by the hospital’s administration to ensure that we provide the best, safest and high quality care to our patients.”