Expansions to Utah Fetal Center centralize specialized maternal care

Intermountain Primary Children’s Hospital and the University of Utah Health announced the opening of the Utah Fetal Center’s new “state-of-the-art” care center within the hospital. The center aims to give mothers and their children “highly-specialized care” for children with complex conditions while in the womb. 

The center’s mission is to be a “one-stop-shop” for all things relating to the health and wellness of the mother and the child by using a multidisciplinary approach to care with a coordinated fetal team. Stephen Fenton, MD, director of the Utah Fetal Center, said:

 

 

“We have a multidisciplinary team with doctors for both the mother and baby who have expertise in fetal medicine and surgery, and who work together to compassionately care for these complicated patients. We want to ensure that moms and babies get the highest level of care possible both during pregnancy and after birth here in the Intermountain West.”

The center is part of Intermountain’s “Primary Promise” plan to “build the nation’s model health system for children.” Intermountain, with help from philanthropic organizations and donors, allocated $500 million in Jan. 2021 to pediatric-specific projects, facilities, and programs.

The Utah Fetal Center, which opened its door officially in 2016, was not originally an all-encompassing facility. Some Utah parents would go to Philadelphia or Houston to access these types of specialized centers. 

The new center will bring together multiple pediatric specialists, social workers, high risk obstetricians, and nurse coordinators to help them through the process of getting the appropriate care. Cali Budge, a mother from Lehi, said:

“During my consultation I spoke with the surgeon, the high-risk obstetrician, neonatologist, social worker, and others from the team that would care for me and my baby. I didn’t have to make any calls or travel around to multiple medical offices — it was all in one place. As an expecting mother already going through the stress of this situation, it was comforting to have that.”

The coordinated teams will meet weekly at a fetal care conference to discuss their plans for each patient as their pregnancy progresses to make sure their specific needs are met. Fenton said:

“We know what a difficult time this can be for an expecting parent. We want to make sure that they know that there is a team of experts here to help them through this process, and to give them the best chance possible of having a happy outcome for their child.”

In a conversation with State of Reform, Rep. Candice Pierucci highlighted the importance of investing in maternal health in the state. She said a lack of access to needed services is leading to negative mental health and physical health outcomes for expecting mothers.

“Some of the things that I’m working on is finding creative solutions for women to have access to those resources that they need … We’re a pro-family state, and this is a crisis for moms in Utah that we need to be addressing.”