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Mercy Hospital in Long Island bolsters access to maternal-fetal medicine

Racial and ethnic health disparities in maternal morbidity and mortality continue to plague the healthcare system. Minority women have higher rates of severe maternal morbidity events and pregnancy-related hypertensive disorders. This year, Catholic Health’s Mercy Hospital in Rockville Centre expanded access to needed maternal-fetal medicine by leveraging its improved telehealth capabilities.

Mercy Hospital provides maternal-fetal medicine care to high-risk expectant mothers of its Family Care Center — a full-service outpatient obstetrical and pediatric clinic that cares for approximately 9,000 patients each year. Thanks to a grant from the Mother Cabrini Health Foundation, Mercy was able to increase healthcare access and offer virtual services to expectant mothers who are diagnosed with diabetes, chronic hypertension and/or pre-eclampsia, in addition to mothers who need further genetic counseling.

Previously, MFM programs required in-person visits. Now, Mercy is able to offer critical and potentially lifesaving services to expectant mothers facing healthcare barriers such as transportation during their prepartum and postpartum care. Mercy is also addressing hesitancy brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic that has kept patients from continuing necessary care. Expectant mothers receiving MFM services for the aforementioned conditions receive Bluetooth-enabled devices, including a tablet with a camera, glucometer to measure sugar levels, blood pressure cuff, pulse oximeter to measure oxygen levels and a scale.

Initial set-up for telehealth appointments occurs during a visit from Catholic Health’s Home Care pediatric and maternity home health nurse. Data from the peripherals are sent to a central monitoring station staffed by specialty-trained registered nurses through Catholic Health Home Care remote patient monitoring program 24/7. Any abnormalities captured by the technology are shared with the patient’s physician for follow up. For more urgent abnormalities, the telehealth and/or home health nurse contacts the patient in real time to provide further instructions and assistance.

MFM telehealth services at Mercy have already proven successful and valuable for patients and the physicians/nurses alike, with positive patient feedback citing that the new technology has reduced burdensome travel and frustration coordinating childcare services.

For more information, contact Alida Almonte-Giannini, director, public and community relations, at alida.almonte-giannini@chsli.org or 631.867.6821.