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Fertility Nurse of the Month: Lori Whalen, RN
”Lori is an amazing resource and support for hundreds of women cycling in America from overseas. I am about to do my third cycle and Lori answers every email within hours even when I send her many, many questions. She has become the person who I turn to most when my friends and even husband are sick of talking about IVF. Lori is always there with her shoulder. When I get to HRC she hugs me like we are dear friends. It's so lovely to see a bubbly, friendly face when travelling so far. I am a nurse myself and I know what makes a great nurse. And Lori has it all.” S.S., Fertility Patient
FertilityAuthority is pleased to recognize Lori Whalen, IVF Nurse Coordinator for HRC Fertility in Newport Beach, CA, as Fertility Nurse of the Month.
Whalen works with patients who travel from overseas, out of state or out of the area for treatment at HRC Fertility. The IVF patients are generally seeking genetic testing on embryos or gender selection for family balancing. Patients who travel overseas often do so because their home country either doesn’t have a lab equipped to do genetic testing for translocations or single gene disorders, or gender selection is illegal.
So how does working with patients who travel for IVF - or egg donation or surrogacy - differ from working with patients who cycle at home? The patient or couple will have a consultation with the doctor, and then Whalen introduces herself, usually via email. “I tell them what’s expected of them, what the next steps are. I send the order to get pre-testing [the fertility workup] in their country. I have been doing this now for six or seven years, so I now know where they can go in their country, where they will be well received,” she says. If testing options are not exact, she determines similar tests that they should undergo. Once the fertility workup is complete, she reviews results and writes a prescription for the fertility drugs. Fertility drugs are either shipped (some prescriptions cannot be filled in certain countries), or a doctor near them rewrites the prescription, because it’s often cheaper to get the drugs at home than pay for shipping. In addition, fertility drugs can often get delayed, or even confiscated, in customs.
Whalen also coordinates the monitoring that will be done before the patient travels to HRC Fertility, finding a local fertility clinic or doctor’s office that will monitor the patient and send her the results.
Patients who start the treatment cycle near their home are only in California for approximately12 days of the treatment cycle; they arrive on day 10 of stimulation medications, the day they are predicted to have their trigger shot for the egg retrieval.
Once the patient arrives, Whalen meets with them to review the procedure again, and sees them through the process, providing information and support and answering questions. “I give them as much information as I can so they know what to expect and so that there are no surprises when they walk in on their transfer day,” she says.
Some international patients, however, prefer to do the entire cycle at HRC Fertility. “They bring family members; we meet their kids, sometimes their parents. It becomes a family affair. You get to know them through this process,” Whalen says.
Whalen has been a fertility nurse for 16 years, and she’s really impressed with how far the technology has come. “The technology has made it so that people that might not have been able to have kids, can now,” she says.
“A lot of these patients have a lot higher expectations because they’ve had kids before,” Whalen adds. Where general fertility patients are hopeful, the patients that already have children have very high expectations. But [that patient is] older now and we find out many do have fertility issues now. They fall a lot harder if a cycle fails because their expectations are a lot higher.”
The high point of Whalen’s day? “When we achieve pregnancy for the patient, especially a patient that has gone through several cycles and traveled so far. I really admire those patients,” she says. And the biggest challenge? “Trying to answer everybody in a timely manner. Even though I have many patients I want them to feel they are my only patients, so I will get back to them in a timely manner to help reduce their stress level. Even if I don’t have an answer, I can let them know I’m working on it.”
FertilityAuthority congratulates Lori Whalen on being recognized as Nurse of the Month
Nominate Your Fertility Nurse
In honor of these hard working nurses who hold our hands throughout our fertility treatment experiences, FertilityAuthority.com will feature a dedicated fertility clinic nurse each month. You can nominate your favorite fertility clinic nurse by clicking here. We will contact you if your nurse is chosen to be our Fertility Nurse of the Month.