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Perinatology: On the front lines


By Ali Applegate, Practice Associate, Montana Perinatal Center

Hello, my name is Ali and I want to tell you why I love my job and why I am fortunate to work with an amazing team at Montana Perinatal Center (MPC). On my first day at MPC almost two years ago, I knew this was going to be a great place to work and learn. We see the full spectrum of women who want to get pregnant, who have complications of pregnancy, multiple gestations or medical problems. Patients come to us from across the state as well as Canada, and each patient and her family are unique and inspiring in their own way. I am pleased to support our wonderful staff to help care for them.

For some, the mention of a high-risk pregnancy can cause tremendous anxiety. However, our staff and doctors are focused on compassionate care and making patients feel at ease. Our goal is to provide a versatile approach to high-risk pregnancies while meeting the needs of all involved. Working as a team and partnering with our patients and referring physicians, we try to reduce these risks through collaboration and planning. Drs. Debra Guinn and Juan Martinez-Poyer are highly trained, board-certified specialists in maternal fetal medicine offering consultation on all obstetrical and medical complications. In addition, our providers offer advanced diagnostics including high-definition ultrasounds, fetal echocardiograms and genetic screenings.

As the first line of contact with patients and referrals at the front desk, I am responsible for scheduling and coordinating ongoing care with our perinatal nurses. While my role is not clinical, one of my greatest privileges is getting to know our patients through our discussions over the phone and in person. Although we may only see them once for an ultrasound at 20 weeks or sometimes even twice a week in the third trimester, it is always fun to welcome these families to our clinic.

No matter what the situation the patient and families may be experiencing, we always strive to convey compassion and empathy at all times. Depending on the situation, we may need to be intuitively quiet or openly celebratory. Understanding how to best support and communicate with patients is more than just a job ­— it’s something our entire team takes to heart. We also enjoy getting to know about patients’ daily lives outside the office, and we invest in their experience at MPC. In fact, many patients often visit us postpartum with their little ones and we are always excited to meet their new addition.

Some of my most enjoyable moments are unplanned and unexpected. For example, sometimes families require one-on-one conversations with the physicians or have lengthy visits. It is not uncommon for me to entertain their little ones while mom and dad are busy. Of course, I have a ready supply of coloring books and toys on hand to fulfill these very important tasks. Juggling the phones, scheduling patients and performing insurance preauthorizations simultaneously can be hectic. Regardless, we are willing to do what it takes to make your visit the best it can be under the circumstances, good or bad.

Needs during pregnancy can be time-sensitive and, therefore, we put forward our best efforts to schedule patients in a timely matter. Some things, like genetic testing, abnormal findings and the treatment of gestational diabetes cannot and should not wait. As a result, our schedule is constantly shifting. The whole staff adapts for situations that require immediate attention, and I have found our team is more than willing to do what is best for the patients’ needs.

Whether I am supervising a coloring book session or scheduling your next appointment, I take great pride and pleasure in being a part of this cohesive team where patients come first. If you or someone you know would benefit from being seen at Montana Perinatal Center, please call us at (406) 257-3872 or find out more about our staff and services online at krh.org/montanaperinatalcenter.

First published in Montana Woman magazine, May 2017