Expansion and renovation are two more reasons the Maternal Fetal Medicine physicians with Driscoll Health System have so much to offer the Rio Grande Valley.
“We are excited to be expanding our service locations in the Upper Valley with our recently remodeled and expanded McAllen office, and our newest location which opened in Brownsville in early December,” said Ryan Loftin, MD, FACOG, Director of Maternal Fetal Medicine, Driscoll Health System.
With these expanded offices, equipped with the latest ultrasound equipment and additional staff, we are able to provide improved full-time services to women throughout the Rio Grande Valley. This substantial investment by Driscoll will provide state-of-the-art care to help OB providers better manage complicated pregnancies,”
The Driscoll Health System’s Maternal Fetal Medicine (MFM) Brownsville office is located at Driscoll Children’s Specialty
Center – Brownsville, 5500 N. Expressway 77.
The Driscoll Maternal Fetal Medicine team also provides care for the high-risk pregnant women of South Texas at their clinics in Harlingen, McAllen, Corpus Christi, Victoria and Laredo.
With a presence in the Valley for almost 10 years, the Driscoll Maternal Fetal Medicine team has a proven track record of helping the OB providers of the Valley continue to provide superior service to those women with more complicated pregnancies. Their mission is to offer the highest quality of care for the women of South Texas and their unborn children.
“It’s rewarding for all of us to take care of moms at such an important time in their lives and try to get them to have the healthiest pregnancies possible,” Anna B. Gonzalez, MD, one of five Maternal Fetal Medicine Specialists with Driscoll Health System, said.
In addition to Drs. Loftin and Gonzalez, the other Driscoll Maternal Fetal Medicine Specialists are Maurice Eggleston Jr., MD, Chao Li, MD, and John Visintine, MD. A sixth MFM Specialist will be joining the
team in 2017.
Dr. Gonzalez is thankful to give back to a community that means so much to her.
“It is exciting for me to be back in my hometown of McAllen and the Rio Grande Valley providing care for women who truly need it,” Dr. Gonzalez said.
Dr. Loftin also feels a special kinship with the Valley. A native Texan who grew up in the central part of the state, his wife is from Brownsville, so he says he considers the Valley and South Texas to be his home. He is proud Driscoll has such a strong presence in the Valley.
“As an independent group, not aligned with any of the local hospitals, having our office space that is separate from the hospital buildings avoids any confusion about why we are there. We are there to provide care to help women and their doctors more safely navigate potentially complicated pregnancies. We are happy to work with all of the OB providers in the Valley and South Texas,” Dr. Loftin said.
Driscoll Maternal Fetal Medicine physicians are at the clinic at least three days a week in McAllen and two days a week in Harlingen, with a full office staff at the clinics five days a week. If a physician is not on-site, there always is a physician assigned to cover the needs of patients in each location for follow-up ultrasound and ongoing management of medical conditions.
“We have a wonderful staff that serve as ongoing contact and support for our patients with difficult pregnancies. This may be patients who have questions about management of their diabetes in pregnancy, or who need additional information about genetic testing or treatment options for their child after delivery. Our caring staff makes the integration with the patient’s primary OB provider and any other specialists that are needed for ongoing care exceptionally easy,” Dr. Loftin said.
“Our staff is more like a family. We all work very hard, and we suffer with our patients when things don’t always go well. Our staff is from the Valley and live in the Valley. The physicians couldn’t do their jobs without them,” Dr. Loftin said.
Almost all their patients see Driscoll’s MFM physicians in the office, but stay with their OB provider for delivery, Dr. Loftin explained. However, for some specific birth defects that may require immediate attention, the MFM physicians coordinate the delivery of patients to make the transition to newborn life and the necessary procedures for the child easier and safer.
“Any pregnancy can unexpectedly become more complicated. Often this occurs if something is seen on an ultrasound that isn’t completely normal. Most often these aren’t true birth defects, but variations of normal anatomy that need further evaluation,” Dr. Loftin said. “When we do find birth defects, we work with families to get them as much information as possible regarding the necessary treatments. This helps alleviate fear for patients who are going through a very stressful time with the birth of a child who may need surgery or other interventions early in life.”
Dr. Loftin understands firsthand the many emotions going through the minds of many of his patients. The father of four, his twins spent a month in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) when they were born.
“I remember vividly the things that were helpful for us to adjust to the concept that our children wouldn’t be coming home with us after delivery as we wanted. Having walked in the shoes of a parent feeling helpless that I couldn’t hold my babies and that they needed machines and IVs to provide for them, I always try to reflect some of my experiences back to the family I am working with,”
Dr. Loftin said.
“I want my patients to see me as not just an adviser about what is going on with them, but to let them know we care about them as people. The emotional impact of finding out there is ‘something wrong’ can be devastating. It is important to let people have the freedom to express their emotions in a supportive atmosphere,” Dr. Loftin said.
Most patients are referred for high-level ultrasound and consultation regarding risks of pregnancy based on something seen or because of possible risks based on a family history of a medical condition or birth defect.
The Driscoll MFM physicians are proud to offer the latest and most modern ultrasound equipment with the ability to image the fetus earlier in pregnancy than ever before. As newer technologies develop, they continuously upgrade their ultrasound machines to stay on the cutting edge of available diagnostic equipment.
“The views that we get of the fetal heart and other organs are incredible. Although all our machines can perform 3-D imaging, the real beauty of these technologies is being able to identify abnormal blood flow patterns and let the cardiologists and surgeons know when there is a problem that needs to be addressed at or after delivery. Preparation for the children who will be sick at birth allow for survival that previously was not possible,” Dr. Loftin said.
As amazing as today’s modern technology may be, Dr. Loftin emphasized it is only one component of Driscoll’s Maternal Fetal Medicine program.
“We have fancy machines, but when we deal with issues that are often difficult for patients and families, the physician has to be present in the moment for them. There is no way to replace the human touch.”
The Driscoll Health System group is the largest Maternal Fetal Medicine program in South Texas, and physicians at the clinics see 600-800 patients a month. The Driscoll Health System physicians have one of the busiest fetal therapy programs in the country, typically performing 15 procedures per year. Gestational diabetes is the most common condition they treat, so the staff works hard to help patients gain control over their blood sugars.
“The more a patient knows about what is going on with her health or her baby’s, the better decisions she can make. Treating patients with diabetes is not so much about using medicines as it is about giving women the information they need to make their own choices and improve things for themselves. We strive to empower our patients to take responsibility for their own health. Pregnant women are highly motivated to make things better for their family,” Dr. Loftin said.
“I am honored to get to serve the women and families of South Texas. I work for a not-for-profit children’s hospital because I believe in the ability to make pregnancy safer and better for the most women possible. The tremendous support and resources made available by Driscoll to care for the children of South Texas is what allows me to live out my dreams of serving such a vast and wonderful set of communities,”
Dr. Loftin said.