The Maternal Care Program at The Fetal Center
The Maternal Care Program’s clinician team believes that the best way for a pregnant mother to take care of her family is to first take care of herself. While other members of the Fetal Center team are providing complex care for your baby, we remain focused on your medical, physical, and emotional needs. Our entire team is committed to supporting you and your family throughout your pregnancy, from initial evaluation and diagnosis through the postpartum period.
The Maternal Care Program was created to ensure that the care we provide our mothers is unfragmented and offered in a single location. All mothers referred to The Fetal Center are under the care of an experienced high-risk maternal-fetal medicine specialist who leads a team dedicated to providing the highest standard of care. The close-knit team works together efficiently and effectively.
Comprehensive Pregnancy Care
From the moment your obstetrician discovers an abnormality through ultrasound or genetic testing, the dynamic of your pregnancy changes. Our Maternal Care Program, an integral part of The Fetal Center, offers comprehensive, streamlined prenatal care to mothers and their babies with congenital or genetic anomalies that result in high-risk pregnancies.
Mothers transferred to the Maternal Care Program are referred by their obstetricians and evaluated by a high-risk maternal-fetal specialist. From evaluation throughout the duration of your pregnancy, you will receive prenatal care exclusively within The Fetal Center.
Our team will review your medical, surgical, and prior pregnancy history to identify any medical conditions that need special attention. All physician appointments occur at the same time as your ultrasounds or pediatric consultations. Laboratory tests and physical exams are performed within our clinic at The Fetal Center, and if you experience any symptoms, we address them immediately. We also provide all medication prescriptions and prepare any documents you may need for medical leave from your employer. For your convenience, we perform assessments for symptoms of preterm labor, preeclampsia, and diabetes in our clinic when possible, rather than in the hospital. We screen all patients for depression, anxiety, and provide treatment within The Fetal Center. We keep your primary obstetrician informed about your condition, your baby’s health, , and all the care that we provided.
We also provide frequent and intense fetal surveillance as needed for mothers who choose to undergo innovative in utero fetal surgery or spend their pregnancy preparing for postnatal treatments for their newborns. Mothers who undergo successful surgeries return to their referring obstetricians for care. If you need specialized pediatric care that other facilities do not provide, you may choose to stay with us at The Fetal Center and Children’s Memorial Hermann Hospital.
We also work closely with fetal interventionalists, pediatric specialists, and you and your family to develop a birth plan that meets your unique needs. The timing and mode of delivery are coordinated to ensure that all members of the delivery team are available when you give birth.
A good, well-coordinated plan helps lead to a successful delivery for you, your baby, and optimize birth outcomes.
We carefully plan for coordinated care during delivery to ensure that the appropriate maternal-fetal medicine team members, specialized nurses, and necessary treatment interventions, such as ECMO (extracorporeal membrane oxygenation), are available if needed. Our goal is to ensure that your baby is delivered safely and transferred to the appropriate team for care.
We present complicated pregnancies at The Fetal Center’s weekly multidisciplinary meeting to ensure close coordination of prenatal and postnatal care. After you, your family, and our team establish your birth plan, we work closely with you to help you follow the recommendations.
Many patients struggle during the postpartum period. Most babies born with anomalies are delivered by cesarean section (C-section) and taken immediately to the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU), where our clinical team follows them with regular visits. We focus on excellent C-section care so that most mothers can go to the NICU to see their babies a few hours after having had major abdominal surgery.
As they recover from the delivery, many of our mothers find that they suffer from anxiety caused by fear of the unknown about the health of their baby. The Maternal Care Program team sees them more frequently than routine prenatal and postpartum patients see their doctors. Ordinarily, we see our patients at one to two weeks after delivery and again at six weeks. If a mother appears to be developing postpartum anxiety or depression, our team meets with them every two weeks, and we see them for longer than six weeks if necessary.
When you reach six weeks postpartum with no problems, we transfer your care back to your primary obstetrician, following up with a written summary of your pregnancy, delivery, and the care you and your baby received to keep your obstetrician informed.
When mothers come back for their postnatal checkups, we welcome them to stop by so that we can watch their babies grow toward normal lives.
About the Maternal Care Program Team
Our team works together to provide patients with the highest quality of care and an outstanding patient experience. We address each patient’s needs promptly and support them and their families during what can be one of the most stressful and challenging times in their lives. We know you and your family have unique needs, and we design your care to meet them.
Jerrie Refuerzo, MD
Department of Obstetrics, Gynecology, and Reproductive Sciences
Division of Maternal-Fetal Medicine
McGovern Medical School at UTHealth Houston
Jerrie Refuerzo, MD, a board-certified maternal-fetal medicine specialist, leads the Maternal Care Program team, provides intensive prenatal care for high-risk pregnancies, and coordinates all deliveries. Refuerzo aligns her patient’s clinical management with recommendations made by fetal interventionalists and pediatric specialists at The Fetal Center to create a cohesive birth plan. She follows her patients postpartum as they maneuver through a harrowing time in their lives. She joined The Fetal Center at Children’s Memorial Hermann Hospital and McGovern Medical School at UTHealth Houston in 2019. Refuerzo has received multiple recognitions for her research and clinical expertise.
The Journey Program
The Journey Program at The Fetal Center supports women and their families when a pregnancy takes an unexpected course. Our interdisciplinary team is comprised of physicians, nurses, social workers, chaplains, Child Life specialists, art therapists and music therapists. We are here to walk with patients on each step of their journey with their baby. We know that our patients may not have expected to be at The Fetal Center. Alex Patch, nurse coordinator for the Maternal Care Program, enrolls patients in the Journey Program and arranges tours of labor and delivery, and the NICU.
Ronald McDonald House Houston at Children’s Memorial Hermann Hospital
This 20-bedroom house inside Children’s Memorial Hermann Hospital serves families with children in the NICU, neonatal special care unit and pediatric ICU. Room availability is based on need and can be secured by speaking with your child’s ICU bedside nurse. Overnight bedrooms at Ronald McDonald House Houston are free to families and offer one queen-size bed, fresh linens, a TV, phone, and Wi-Fi. Each room also includes a bathroom (shared with one other family in an adjoining room) stocked with towels and toiletries.
Ronald McDonald House Houston – The Holcombe House
The Holcombe House is a home away from home for families who are being treated at Texas Medical Center institutions. Located less than a mile away from our office and Children’s Memorial Hermann Hospital, the Holcombe House has 70 private bedrooms equipped with two queen-sized beds and a full bath. Families staying at the Holcombe House are provided with scheduled weekday van service to Texas Medical Center hospitals and nearby grocery stores, Monday through Friday.