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New Center for High Risk Babies to Provide Higher Level of Care, Save Lives

April 03, 2023

For expecting parents, hearing that their baby is at high risk for serious birth defects or health conditions is a scary thing.

But a new partnership between Hartford HealthCare (HHC) and Connecticut Children’s will help reassure them – and potentially save lives.

Connecticut Children’s, in partnership with the Connecticut Children’s Pediatric Care Alliance with Hartford HealthCare, has opened a new Fetal Care Center, which will provide the next generation of fetal care for families in New England and beyond.

Powerful partnership

Fetal Care Center

It is the only Fetal Care Center in New England with a dedicated delivery unit. The Center will operate inside the health system’s main campus at 282 Washington in Hartford before relocating into the new tower expansion, set to open in 2025.

The Fetal Care Center at Connecticut Children’s treats mothers with babies who have been identified as high risk for serious birth defects or health conditions that may need advanced care in utero and soon after delivery. Thanks to the powerful Connecticut Children’s Pediatric Care Alliance with Hartford HealthCare, this will allow for a seamless continuum of care for mom and baby.

“There is not another center in New England that will provide the same kind of care and experience for fetal diagnoses,” says Timothy Crombleholme, MD, Fetal Care Center director. “We know expectant mothers and their babies have better outcomes when they receive care close to home. We will bring these lifesaving procedures to the families of Connecticut and beyond to treat conditions such as spina bifida, congenital diaphragmatic hernia and more.”

Higher level of care

Other treatments include twin-twin transfusion syndrome procedures that tout the nation’s best survival rates and lowest complication rates, robotic fetoscopic myelomeningocele repair for the prenatal treatment of spina bifida and the FETO procedure, which stands for fetoscopic endoluminal tracheal occlusion. The FETO procedure is offered at only a handful of fetal centers for the treatment of severe congenital diaphragmatic hernia.

“This procedure involves placing a balloon in the trachea of the unborn baby to try to expand the lung on the side of the hernia and then removing that balloon prior to delivery,” says Dr. Crombleholme.

Access to care, close to home

“Connecticut Children’s is committed to advancing pediatric healthcare through innovative centers and programs,” says Bob Duncan, Chief Operating Officer, Connecticut Children’s. “This center is an invaluable resource to our state and region and will ensure expecting moms have access to the kind of compassionate and personalized care they deserve, especially when trying to navigate these complex fetal diagnoses.”

“The strong partnership we have maintained through the Pediatric Care Alliance has allowed us to seamlessly build this innovative resource,” says Bimal Patel, president of Hartford Hospital. “This center puts a spotlight on the exceptional expertise we have right here. Moms and families in our region who are in need of these specialized services can now have confidence that they will not have to travel long distances to receive truly world class care.”

Personalized, coordinated care

Connecticut Children’s Fetal Care Center is just one of 15 centers in the country. It also features a dedicated nurse coordinator who serves as an integral member of the care team by coordinating and managing all of a mother’s needs, while she focuses on baby.

“Our maternal-fetal medicine experts specialize in caring for individuals with high-risk pregnancies, using the latest technology and the most compassionate care,” says Adam Borgida, MD, chief of obstetrics and gynecology at Hartford Hospital.

“During pregnancy, we work closely with each patient’s care team to create an individualized plan for mom and baby, using the most advanced testing and surveillance methods to identify issues before birth and care for mom and baby during delivery.

“I am incredibly proud of the integral role our maternal fetal medicine specialists play in the Fetal Care Center and ensuring the best possible outcomes for everyone who needs these specialized services.”

“Saving lives in utero”

“Connecticut Children’s fetal care center will be an invaluable resource to the state, region and nation. We are redefining the standard of care and saving lives in utero,” says Dr. Crombleholme. “It is surgery that was once beyond imagination and is now right here in your backyard.”

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