On May 18, Nelson Lo, M.D., OB/GYN and staff at The Birth Place had the honor of placing Finn James into the arms of first-time parents, Rachel and Austin Minnehan of Churdan. Finn weighed a healthy 6 pounds, 4 ounces and was 18.5 inches long.
The Minnehans, like many other couples, had previously struggled with fertility issues. When Rachel's co-worker recommended Dr. Lo, she scheduled an appointment at the St. Anthony Clinic in Carroll. Rachel explained that some of their friends go to Ames, Lake City or Boone for obstetrics care, however, St. Anthony was the only choice for them.
After their first appointment with Dr. Lo, they immediately felt comfortable with him. He prescribed a series of fertility drugs, which Rachel started taking immediately. Within the year, Rachel and Austin were thrilled to become pregnant.
The couple shared they are extremely grateful they selected Dr. Lo, who provided excellent, proactive care to Rachel and the baby as they faced several challenges throughout the pregnancy, delivery and after. Rachel had placenta previa early in the pregnancy. Multiple ultrasounds were required to monitor the condition, which also revealed the baby was breach – so a cesarean was planned.
"Dr. Lo's nurses were understanding and compassionate in person and on the phone with my many questions – both during fertility treatment and throughout my pregnancy," Rachel said. "At appointments, I never felt rushed. In fact, I felt special, as Dr. Lo always took time and great care to answer all of our questions."
At 37 weeks, Rachel woke up one Monday morning not feeling well. She went to see Dr. Lo, who checked her blood pressure. Since it was high, he tested her for preeclampsia, which was negative. Dr. Lo's team kept in touch with Rachel throughout the week. On Friday she went in for another check-up. Her blood pressure was still a concern, so Dr. Lo immediately admitted her to St. Anthony to monitor her more closely. As her blood pressure continued to climb, Dr. Lo determined the baby must be delivered as soon as possible for both of their health. Rachel had an emergency C-section that day.
"I never doubted Dr. Lo's judgment for a moment. When he said it's time to have your baby, even though it was two weeks early, we were comfortable knowing he had both of our best interests and safety in mind," said Rachel.
Rachel beamed when talking about the staff and her experience at St. Anthony.
"The labor and delivery nurses were awesome. They answered questions and made me feel very comfortable," she said. "They helped me with the transition into motherhood."
Likewise, Finn's new pediatrician was terrific, added Rachel. Susan Teggatz, M.D., whose specialties include pediatric medicine, development and childhood diseases, spent 45 minutes visiting with the new parents before they set out into the world with little Finn.
At home on their farm west of Churdan where they raise cattle and hogs, the Minnehans were adjusting to parenthood – but Rachel began to feel ill again. One month after delivering, she visited another clinic, where they treated her for heartburn. Rachel's intuition told her something else was wrong, so she scheduled an appointment with Dr. Lo the next day. He diagnosed a gallstone that was blocking her bile duct, causing bile to back up in her liver. This could have been an extremely serious condition if left untreated. Dr. Lo immediately referred her to Western Iowa Surgery at St. Anthony and the next day her gallbladder was removed by Josh Smith, M.D.
Reminiscing about the birth of Finn and their experience at St. Anthony, Rachel smiled.
"Even though Carroll is a small town, I always felt like we were getting the most modern treatment and care in the world – like you'd get in Des Moines or any big hospital," Rachel said. "St. Anthony offers the best of both worlds, big city care and small-town feel. We weren't just a number to the doctors and staff at St. Anthony; they all knew us and truly cared about us. We felt our care was tailored and specialized to our unique situation and needs."
"It was great to work with the skilled and caring team at St. Anthony throughout Rachel's pregnancy, labor and delivery and later complications. Together we ensured the safety and health of both Rachel and the baby. The Minnehans are a wonderful couple, and we are very happy for them," said Dr. Lo.
Although still getting accustomed to life with Finn, who is now ten weeks old, Rachel says one thing is sure, if they have another child, they will definitely go back to Dr. Lo.
"Dr. Lo knows our story, and he and his team provided the best quality care to both Finn and me. It means the world to trust your doctor – and ours is kind, smart and proactive and always put our health first," she said. "After delivering with Dr. Lo at St. Anthony, we won't go anywhere else."
In addition to prescriptions for oral fertility medications, Dr. Lo also helps patients by conducting comprehensive fertility workups for couples facing fertility challenges. A workup involves a series of tests to check hormones, labs, fallopian tubes, ovulation, semen and more. If additional options, including in vitro and intrauterine insemination, are needed – Dr. Lo refers patients to trusted colleagues in the region who specialize in this area.
As the healthcare landscape continues to shift in Iowa and across the nation, many rural and community hospitals are finding it increasingly challenging to continue providing obstetrics care. In fact, studies show that the number of hospitals that provide maternity services in Iowa decreased by 50 percent in the past 50 years – leaving mothers-to-be with fewer options and longer driving distances.
In 2018, this disheartening trend continued in Iowa, with at least seven obstetric program closures. However, St. Anthony Regional Hospital is committed to continuing to serve the region and providing the highest quality obstetric care to patients and families in west central Iowa. St. Anthony proudly serves approximately 400 families each year at The Birth Place, which offers eight labor and delivery rooms and cesarean suite. The physicians, nurses and support staff at St. Anthony will continue to be there for residents of our region, providing essential obstetrics services and delivering babies for many years to come.