New Lives in the Balance

Helping Moms with High-Risk Pregnancies

Uninsured, pregnant and suffering from a dangerous heart condition, Anne Marie Ballato had been turned away from other hospitals in the region. Fortunately, NuHealth’s nationally-recognized specialists in high-risk pregnancy and cardiology were ready for the challenge.
Anne Marie Ballato was diagnosed with hypertrophic cardiomyopathy — a hereditary disorder in which abnormal thickening of the heart muscle can obstruct the flow of blood, causing potentially fatal rhythm disturbances and heart failure. In fact, several of Ms. Bellato’s family members died from the disorder. And when she became pregnant, her risks as a patient were too great for many other hospitals in the region to take on, particularly given her lack of insurance.

She turned to Nassau University Medical Center, where a multidisciplinary team led by Dr. Chaur-Dong Hsu, MD, MPH, FACOG, chair of the department of obstetrics and gynecology and Sanjay Doddamani, MD, FACC, FASE, chair of cardiology, worked in concert to save both mother and child. When Ms. Ballato’s symptoms worsened, the team successfully delivered her beautiful new daughter, Izabella at 36 weeks. A few days later, Ms. Ballato received a new lease on life in the form of an implanted defibrillator, thanks to NuHealth’s Cardiac Care team and its affiliation with the North Shore-LIJ Health System.

It was an extraordinary situation in many regards. But in another way, it was just another example of how Nassau University Medical Center’s OB-GYN Department is helping mothers with high risk pregnancies. In fact, while circumstances prevented Ms. Bellato from doing so, the hospital was recently recognized by the Healthcare Association of New York (HANYS) for helping more mothers than ever carry their high-risk pregnancies to term.

“Our obstetrics staff’s dedication to improving the quality of care for women with high-risk pregnancies has been exceptional,” noted NuHealth CEO Arthur Gianelli. “Under the leadership of Dr. Chaur-Dong Hsu they have turned Nassau University Medical Center into a better, safer place for women with difficulty pregnancies. We have an extraordinary Neonatal Intensive Care Unit with a staff that’s ready to handle anything, but nothing makes us happier than seeing fewer babies in need of our NICU.”

The HANYS Hospital Specific Obstetric Report shows how NUMC is performing on select obstetrics related quality measures as compared to other hospitals in the state. The Report includes three separate areas:
Perinatal Indicator Comparative Report: NUMC had a significantly lower Caesarian delivery rate, higher vaginal delivery rate, higher operative vaginal delivery and lower rate of neonatal outcome indicator.
Electronic Fetal Monitoring Education: NUMC’s healthcare providers were better educated and trained in electronic fetal monitoring than peer hospitals.
Survey on Patient Safety Culture: NUMC had a higher percentage of overall perceptions of safety, supervisor/manager expectations and actions promoting safety rate, organizational education and continuous improvement rate than all New York State initiative hospitals.

“Our staff has worked very hard in the last several years to improve the experience of mothers with high-risk pregnancies,” noted Dr. Hsu. “I am proud of their accomplishments, but we aren’t done. Thankfully, not every high-risk pregnancy presents the challenges experienced by Ms. Bellato and her baby, Izabella. But it is good example of the kind of complex cases we are able to handle here at Nassau University Medical Center. The closer we can help our mothers carry their pregnancies to term, the healthier they and their babies will be.”

Click here to access the HANYS Quality Institute chart that includes the percent of births with NICU admissions for 22 hospitals in NUMC’s peer group.