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Manifesto For IVF Clinics

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a blog by Amy Klein, February 10, 2014

This week, I wanted to discuss (with your help, of course) how IVF clinics can improve.

I remember when I started testing at a fertility clinic . I was out of the country for a few weeks, and the nurse wanted to call me with the test results. But we were playing phone tag and so we decided to email. She sent me the test results (I was MTFHR, but that’s another story) and I kept her email.

I used it for the next five months I was at that clinic doing IUIs. Although this procedure is the easiest of all fertility ones – including timed sex, I think – it was my first foray into this alternate universe, and I had a lot of questions. And when I say a lot, I mean a lot. (After all, I’m a reporter).

I don’t know if I was meant to have her email or correspond with her, but I did so I did. And let me tell you, it sure beat waiting on the phone for someone to pickup, or getting a call with someone who wasn’t familiar with my situation (not that we were that special, just one couple who had natural pregnancies and miscarriages who were moving onto the next step before IVF).

That whole email relationship made me feel heard. Like a person. Not just another file folder reading gossip rags in the waiting room (while my husband made his contributions off in another, less crowded room). Not like someone in an assembly line – which is what you wonder each time the phlebotomist shows you the label on your blood vial.

And here’s where I come to my first prescription for every fertility clinic (after all, they’ve given me so many…): Why can’t you all assign one dedicated staffer to every patient? This person can be a social worker, a nurse or just someone with a really, really good personality. S/he would know who we are, be available at almost any hour for questions, and be our liaison to our doctor, nurse, billing department. If that’s not possible, how about a 24-hour hotline and email for after-hours questions, and one or two people to handle our case files.

I can’t say how much time I’ve put in just on hold, alone. Or repeating my story to a nurse who doesn’t understand my case. Or finding a doctor in time for an urgent question.

I know some clinics are better than others at this, and having a contact at a clinic won’t necessarily help us have babies. But it will help us through this very scary, confusing and precise process.

Tune in the rest of the week for more suggestions (yours and mine).

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