When babies need a specialist before they’re born


In health care today, innovation is the newest buzzword. We all strive to find new innovative ways to treat certain diseases, to provide safe health care, to create value in our systems.

There are lots of “fits and starts” because not everything always works the way we envision, but when we land on something that does work, it’s like putting that last piece into a puzzle … it feels just right.

That’s how I feel about the OHSU Doernbecher Fetal Therapy Program we developed here about a year ago.

Pregnancy is a unique time in a woman’s life — the only time in medicine where we are caring for two patients at once. When a woman discovers that there may be a serious threat to her developing child, she needs answers and hope.

The OHSU Doernbecher Fetal Therapy Program brings together an interdisciplinary team of maternal-fetal medicine specialists from the OHSU Center for Women’s Health, pediatric subspecialists from OHSU Doernbecher, and experts in fetal imaging, interventional radiology, genetic counselors, clinical nursing and bioethics to help these families obtain a prompt, accurate diagnoses, minimally invasive therapies before birth, and planning for treatment after the baby is born.

Our goal is to ensure that every mother and child has the very best chance for a healthy future.


With this goal in mind, we knew that OHSU Doernbecher was uniquely situated to provide a coordinated, one-stop shopping experience by virtue of the fact that we are integrated — all of our services, specialists and resources are in one place.

All of our best resources are focused on one patient at a time, working together to create a coordinated plan that will provide the optimal outcome for each family.

At the center of all of this is the nurse coordinator, Cathy Cromett. She has many years of experience working with women who are facing difficult pregnancies. Every patient we see is guided through the program by Cathy. She is always there to answer questions, hold a hand or just listen.

We recently saw our 200th patient in this program. I sat in on the care conference for that patient, watching a room full of neonatologists, pediatric surgeons, cardiologists, pediatric urologists, obstetric radiologists, maternal fetal medicine specialists, genetic counselors and our nursing coordinator work together to find the best solution for this woman and her baby. It was incredible to watch the coordination and the integration of the family’s needs and the baby’s medical needs after birth.

I found myself thinking … this is the way it should be, we are really helping people who are facing very difficult situations. It felt just right … the puzzle piece fit perfectly

To learn more about the OHSU Doernbecher Fetal Therapy Program, we invite you to read the following stories:

Jan Freitas-Nichols, M.N., P.N.P.
Director, Women’s and Children’s Services
OHSU Doernbecher Children’s Hospital