The first fetal echocardiogram has been performed at Owensboro Health Regional Hospital, paving the way for fragile babies and their families from throughout the region to receive much-needed advanced care.
Fetal echo is a diagnostic tool that uses ultrasound waves to create images of a baby’s heart. A pediatric cardiologist can then review those images, which show structure and function of the baby’s heart, allowing diagnosis of heart conditions and problems. Because this is done before the baby is born, parents can be better-informed about their baby’s needs and delivery can be done in a hospital with advanced care capabilities, if necessary.
The first fetal echocardiogram (echo, for short) was conducted on June 6 at Owensboro Health Regional Hospital by sonographers with the Electrodiagnostics unit. The images were then sent to and read by Dr. Brian Holland, a pediatric cardiologist with University of Louisville Physicians. Dr. Holland and other specialists are able to offer their services and expertise remotely, thanks to a collaboration between Owensboro Health and University of Louisville Physicians.
Specialists at both Owensboro Health and University of Louisville Physicians agree that this greatly enhances prenatal and newborn care in Owensboro and the surrounding region.
“The goal is to identify babies with cardiac defects and manage their care in the safest way possible, and for as many babies to be delivered as close to home as possible. The few that require a higher level of care due to severe cardiac defects would plan to deliver in a hospital that has the resources on site that can provide the specialized care needed. Fetal echocardiograms can help the physicians guide the families appropriately.” – Sara Abell, RN, manager of the Electrodiagnostics unit at Owensboro Health Regional Hospital
“It’s a great service to be able to add to our repertoire of growing prenatal and post-delivery service lines. That allows us to determine what care is needed and where the baby should receive care, in cases where advanced care is needed.” – Dr. Bridget Burshears, neonatologist and medical director of the Owensboro Health Regional Hospital Level III Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU)
“By offering fetal echocardiogram locally, we are able to identify “high-risk pregnancies” and take the necessary steps to care for both mother and baby. They no longer have to travel to bigger cities to get the care they require and deserve. It fulfills Owensboro Health’s goal of providing access to world-class care in the communities we serve.” – Dr. Roshan Mathew, executive director of One Health Cardiology and Owensboro Heart and Vascular Institute
“They can get everything from maternal-fetal medicine care by Dr. Tabb, to fetal echo at Owensboro Health Regional Hospital, to newborn care in the Level III NICU with Dr. Burshears, to follow-up with pediatric cardiology at our outreach clinic in Owensboro. We’ve been working to improve the care for these newborns, and one of the ideas was making fetal echo more accessible. They can get a high level of specialty care without ever leaving town. The families are so much better off and better prepared. There’s less stress, less anxiety. ” – Dr. Brian Holland, pediatric cardiologist, University of Louisville Physicians, and assistant professor, University of Louisville School of Medicine
“If there is an abnormality, it’s important to be able to prepare yourself for what’s coming, and to know the child will be followed up with appropriately. If you think there’s an abnormality and there’s not, it puts the patient’s concerns to rest. The more services you can provide in the local area, the better it is for patients. Travel is always an issue and an expense. It’s also logistically harder to do something 150 miles away rather than going to a building nearby. Those are all reasons to have this available in our local area.” – Thomas Tabb, MD, One Health Maternal & Fetal Medicine