Memorial's Approach to High-Risk Pregnancies Safeguards Mothers and Babies in Complex Pregnancies

August 08, 2023

Dawn and Dr. Kang holding her newborn baby

Memorial Healthcare System’s high risk pregnancy hospitalist team includes a specialized focus on obstetric care for placenta accreta spectrum patients at Memorial Regional Hospital. This program, which offers a 24/7 on-call team of experts, reinforces Memorial's commitment to delivering the highest level of care to expecting mothers and their babies, particularly in cases where complications, such as placenta previa and placenta accreta, pose significant risks.

"Our teams have the processes and plans in place to safely deliver your child if you have placenta accreta. We have years of experience treating this condition and providing safe outcomes,” said Julie Kang, MD, medical director of High-Risk Obstetrics Surgery at Memorial Healthcare System. “We like to put our patients at ease because this really is an emotional battle when it comes to the surgery.”

Placenta accreta spectrum is a high-risk pregnancy condition that affects one in 272 births annually in the United States. It occurs when the placenta attaches itself and grows too deeply into the uterine wall, making separation difficult during delivery. This can lead to severe complications like heavy vaginal bleeding, premature delivery, and, in extreme cases, a hysterectomy or even loss of life.

Dawn Basham, a 47-year-old patient, discovered she was pregnant just before her birthday on Christmas Eve, fulfilling a lifelong dream. However, her joy soon turned to concern when her high-risk doctor suspected placenta previa and placenta accreta four months later. Dawn expressed her initial heartbreak, saying, "To have made it this far and then to find out, wow, this could end everything."

Memorial's dedicated team of experts, including Erin Myers, MD, associate medical director of the Obstetrics and Gynecology Hospitalist Program, and Dr. Kang, immediately stepped in to provide compassionate care and support. Dr. Myers explains the risks associated with placenta accreta, stating, "When the placenta has grown into the womb, there's no way for it to separate at the time of delivery. Removing the uterus with the placenta in place, we decrease the risk of bleeding."

Dawn describes her experience with Memorial Healthcare System as comforting, particularly during her first consultation with Dr. Kang, where she immediately felt reassured that everything was going to be okay. She expressed her gratitude towards the healthcare team's personalized approach, which helped alleviate her concerns in this emotional battle.

Memorial's commitment to patient-centered care is exemplified by its comprehensive obstetrics team, including maternal-fetal medicine specialists that co-manage prenatal care with the patient's OB, and perinatal nurse navigators that guide patients throughout the entire process: from explaining what to expect, coordinating appointments, accompanying them into the operating room, and ensuring their sense of safety and security.

Dawn's story had a happy ending, as she vividly recalls the moment Dr. Kang placed her baby close to her face and expressed her love. The promise of capturing her husband, Rick, meeting their baby for the first time was delivered. Rick, overwhelmed with joy, could not find the words to describe the transformative experience Memorial provided, as it fulfilled their lifelong dream of becoming parents.

Dr. Myers further underscored Memorial's mission to care for the community, stating, "Memorial is really here to meet the needs of the community. We grow and expand to ensure we provide the best care possible."

Memorial Healthcare System continues to enhance the quality of care and ensure the best possible experience for its patients and their families at all three of its Family Birthplace locations. And with more babies born at Memorial Regional Hospital than any other facility in Broward County, the hospital is investing $68 million to redesign and expand its Family Birthplace to create a state-of-the-art facility dedicated to delivering exceptional maternity care. The enhanced Family Birthplace will offer expanded, private new rooms and specialty rooms, family lounge, cutting-edge technology, and a comprehensive range of services to support expecting mothers and newborns.

Learn more about Memorial's comprehensive high-risk pregnancy care and obstetrics services.

If you have been diagnosed to have a high-risk pregnancy, please contact your OB/GYN to develop a plan of care.