Access to Maternal-fetal Experts Expands into Rural Communities

Share Article

Telemedicine technology is bringing the expertise of Washington University maternal-fetal medicine specialists at Barnes-Jewish Hospital and pediatric specialists at St. Louis Children's Hospital to patients at Memorial Hospital of Carbondale, a member of the Southern Illinois Healthcare (SIH) system.

News Image
In the event a patient needs to travel to St. Louis for further evaluation, we usually can arrange an appointment for her within 48 hours so that we can provide her with answers as quickly as possible.

Telemedicine technology is bringing the expertise of Washington University maternal-fetal medicine specialists at Barnes-Jewish Hospital to patients at Memorial Hospital of Carbondale, a member of the Southern Illinois Healthcare (SIH) system.

“Previously, when an expectant mother in the Carbondale area needed a maternal-fetal medicine consultation, she had to travel two hours to St. Louis to get an ultrasound and then talk with a Barnes-Jewish specialist,” says Ellyn Rosenblum, manager of physician services/telehealth at St. Louis Children’s Hospital. “This new telemedicine collaboration allows women to have their ultrasound done at Memorial Hospital of Carbondale, and those images are transmitted to St. Louis through Cloud-based image transfer technology. A Barnes-Jewish maternal-fetal medicine specialist immediately reviews the images and talks with patients about the results via video conferencing.”

Memorial Hospital of Carbondale is the flagship hospital for SIH and is the regional referral center for the 16-county southern Illinois region.

“We are southern Illinois’ largest birthing center, and as such we felt it was important for us to offer our patients this elevated level of care as conveniently as possible,” says Cindy Frenkel, MSN, RN, CENP, nurse executive at Memorial Hospital of Carbondale. “For many of our patients, simply getting transportation to Carbondale is difficult; traveling to St. Louis is almost impossible for them. This collaboration was a great effort on the part of both Barnes-Jewish Hospital and Memorial Hospital of Carbondale, and it is proving a valuable benefit to our community.”

To ensure the collaboration’s success, Washington University maternal-fetal medicine specialists applied for licenses to practice in Illinois and underwent credentialing at Memorial Hospital of Carbondale. In addition, Memorial’s ultrasonographers received additional training in St. Louis to ensure they captured the detailed and multiple images required in diagnosing potential maternal or fetal complications. Contributors to the St. Louis Children’s Hospital Foundation funded the purchase of video equipment donated to Memorial Hospital of Carbondale.

“Common referrals to maternal-fetal medicine are maternal morbidities such as diabetes and hypertension and mild abnormal ultrasound findings that are markers for chromosome problems,” says Katherine Goetzinger, MD, MSCI, maternal-fetal medicine physician. “Oftentimes we easily are able to counsel moms and reassure them via the telemedicine program. Referring obstetricians receive an ultrasound report, as well as a letter outlining all of our findings. And in the event a patient needs to travel to St. Louis for further evaluation, we usually can arrange an appointment for her within 48 hours so that we can provide her with answers as quickly as possible.”

In addition, when it’s determined that fetuses at high risk should be delivered at Barnes-Jewish Hospital, the pediatric subspecialists at St. Louis Children’s Hospital are immediately available for consultation.

The telemedicine agreement between Barnes-Jewish Hospital and Memorial Hospital of Carbondale was facilitated by their participation in the BJC Collaborative, which was formed in October 2012 by BJC HealthCare, CoxHealth, Memorial Health System in Springfield, Ill., and Saint Luke’s Health System in Kansas City, Mo. The Collaborative expanded in 2013 with the addition of Blessing Health System in Quincy, Ill., and Southern Illinois Healthcare in Carbondale, Ill.

“The Collaborative provides a means of facilitating the exploration and, ultimately, the implementation and expansion of clinical programs and services between and among the Collaborative members to improve access to and quality of health care for patients,” says Sandra Van Trease, BJC group president, who provides strategic leadership for the Collaborative. “This agreement between Barnes-Jewish Hospital and Memorial Hospital of Carbondale is an excellent example of how Collaborative members are working together to enhance the care and convenience for patients in their local communities.”

Share article on social media or email:

View article via:

Pdf Print

Contact Author

Abby Wuellner
St. Louis Children's Hospital
+1 (314) 286-0416
Email >
Visit website