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April's RE of the Month: Angeline N. Beltsos
Angeline N. Beltsos, M.D.
Fertility Centers of Illinois
You’d think Angie Beltsos was a lady of leisure. When we caught up with her to let her know she was FertilityAuthority’s Physician of the Month, she was poolside in Florida, getting some much deserved R & R! But don’t let that fool you! She’s one of the hardest working REs in the business.
Dr. Beltsos is the second busiest physician at the Fertility Centers of Illinois (which sees approximately 4,000 new patients each year) and the Medical Director of its River North IVF Center in Chicago. If that’s not enough, she’s also Clinical Assistant Professor and Educational REI Division Director for the Illinois Masonic Medical Center and the Lutheran General Hospital OB/GYN Residency Programs. OK, and while she was poolside, she was working, returning FertilityAuthority’s calls, and awaiting another interview when ours ended. Now throw into the mix the fact that she has three children. Whew!
In Touch with Patients
Dr. Beltsos has worked at FCI for nine years and has grown her practice significantly, a fact she attributes to the care she gives her patients. “I try to give very unique consideration to each of my patients,” she says. "If you come to me, you will not be considered to be the cookie cutter of everyone else,” she claims. “I pay attention to the nuances and details of each case and always try to make myself available to talk about where you are, medically and emotionally.”
Fertility patients often feel like they are “just another number,” a feeling Beltsos attributes, in part, to the fact that fertility treatments involve more of a “team approach” to care, involving nurses and specialists, as opposed to a one-on-one appointment with an OB/GYN you might see annually.
So what can a patient do to improve her relationship with her doctor? “Ask your doctor, ‘What are ways we can have more contact?’” she suggests and, “use any face-to-face time you have to ask questions or express your concerns.” For instance, she gives patients her email address and encourages them to email her if they’re “awake with questions at 2:00 in the morning.”
View from the Inside
So what trends are emerging inside the world of infertility treatments?
“The big push is transferring only one or two embryos during IVF,” says Dr. Beltsos. “You’ll see it reflected in the SART statistics; ironically, single embryo transfer was preferable even before Octomom made headlines.”
So is she opposed to legislation regulating IVF? “I would definitely not want laws dictating what has to happen during IVF. That takes away any freedom you have as a patient to make decisions for yourself, with your doctor’s guidance.”
Another trend FCI is seeing is patients electing to have preimplantation genetic diagnosis (PGD), which screens for defective chromosomes (which may cause Down Syndrome or miscarriage) and screens out genetic diseases (like cystic fibrosis). While it is known, controversially, as making “designer babies,” Dr. Beltsos disagrees. “It’s really not about having a baby with blue eyes, but rather having one without Down Syndrome.” Dr. Beltsos recommends PGD if, “my patient is older, has had failed IVFs or multiple miscarriages.”
While the number of patients electing to undergo PGD has risen to about 10% of all patients, some patients are resistant. “It costs about $4,000 and is not covered by insurance,” says Dr. Beltsos. Plus, it’s yet another invasive procedure, “Some patients feel it just involves more poking and prodding.”
Dr. Beltsos doesn’t feel PGD is necessary for every patient, but, she says, “I like to let my patients know it is another elective for them.” She doesn’t want them saying, “I wish I had known.”
Another opportunity Dr. Beltsos offers at FCI is access to cutting-edge technologies that are “just beginning to take off” including comparative genomic hybridization (CGH) which tests the chromosomes expelled by the eggs during normal cell division and following fertilization, microarray assay, which is used to examine gene expression, and blastomere biopsy, whereby one or two cells are removed from a six- to eight-cell embryo for screening. “Few practices in the country use the technology that FCI uses,” she says. “Our center is doing as much research as many university programs.”
Dr. Beltsos is board-certified in obstetrics and gynecology and in reproductive endocrinology. She completed her residency in obstetrics and gynecology at Loyola University, followed by a fellowship in reproductive endocrinology and infertility at Washington University in St. Louis, Missouri. Dr. Beltsos is the FCI Clinical Research Divisional Director and participates in a number of research projects and scientific publications. She has received numerous awards in teaching and has been honored as “Top Doctor” from Castle Connelly. You can contact Dr. Beltsos at www.fcionline.com
or (312) 222-8230.