Your Fertility and COVID 19: What You Need To Know And How To Move Forward.

 

Patient Update – April 1, 2020

We know the uncertainty around fertility treatment can feel disappointing at this difficult time in our country. However, our steadfast focus on our patients and their safety continue to be our top priority. We are committed to moving your fertility journey forward in these changing times.

 

We are closely monitoring all ongoing developments and changing our protocols accordingly based on recommendations from the Center of Disease Control (CDC), the World Health Organization (WHO),  local and state health agencies as well as our industry governing body the American Society of Reproductive Medicine (ASRM).

 

We support ASRM in their recommendations to help mitigate the spread of this virus while still providing urgent reproductive care as determined by our providers alongside our patients. Infertility is a disease and infertility care is not elective. We recognize infertility care is on an individual basis and every patient’s situation is different. Our fertility providers will work with each of our patients to determine what is time-sensitive and should be done now versus what can be momentarily delayed. We know that time is of the utmost importance here, so this may include reassessing the care of patients with diminished ovarian reserve, as well as other conditions where extended delays may impact patient outcomes.

For Texas Clinics:

The Texas Medical Board announced emergency rules last week which enforce the prohibition of physicians performing any procedures that are not immediately medically necessary. These emergency rules expire April 21, 2020. After this date, we will begin cycling patients.  Should these dates change, we will communicate that to our patients.

What does this mean for our patients?

This is a constantly-evolving situation, and as a result, all care is subject to changing conditions. We are committed to avoiding community spread by following current health guidelines:

• All consults that do not require an in-office exam have been moved to telemedicine platforms.

• Our fertility care providers will work one on one with their patients to assess their specific needs and determine if their care plan falls into the time sensitive category. This may apply to patients with diminished ovarian reserve, as well as other conditions where extended delays may impact patient outcomes. Patients should schedule a telemedicine appointment with their provider to determine the best treatment options and timelines.

• Should your treatment need to be rescheduled, we are committed to rescheduling your cycle as soon as possible. Know that we look forward to resuming care (safely) as much as you do. We will be in communication with you regularly to update you on timing.

• The health and safety of our patients are critical to us. We are adhering to the social distancing recommendation by updating our protocols to minimize unnecessary interaction and reduce risk as follows:

○ Limiting visitors for in-office appointments

○ Frequent disinfection to high touch items

○ Keeping sick/symptomatic employees out of office

○ Providing ongoing training to our employees of safe practices

We know this situation is stressful and we don’t want it to delay your dream of having a child even longer than is safely necessary. Thankfully, there are many steps that can be accomplished through telemedicine appointments now to get our patients closer to achieving their family building dreams. We’re committed to providing access to care during this time.

We’re also here to continue providing you with important emotional support and inspiring hope. Each week, we are offering a series of emotional wellness support webinars, and you can find all details on our social media channels with links to register and participate. We hope to see you there.

Please don’t hesitate to call our office to speak with us about any specific questions you may have. On our end, we promise to continue providing updates via our website, email, and social media channels. We are so happy to partner with you in your journey to build your family. We are here for you every step of the way.

Additional Resources

COVID-19 Update – March 18, 2020

The coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic is a constantly-evolving situation that is affecting the United States and the international community. We want our patients to feel confident that we are closely monitoring all developments and adhering to recommendations from the Center of Disease Control (CDC), the World Health Organization (WHO),  local and state health agencies as well as our industry governing body the American Society of Reproductive Medicine (ASRM). We understand that our patients may have questions about how this affects their treatments, how we are helping to minimize the spread of the disease, and how our business operations may change during this unique time. We are first and foremost committed to being advocates for our patients and helping you continue your fertility journey.

Effective March 18, 2020 we will be offering telemedicine appointments for both new patient and follow-up consultations. We will also be rescheduling any cycle starts. Rest assured we are prepared and ready to proceed with fertility treatments as soon as possible. Our staff is reaching out to patients as quickly as possible to discuss your rescheduling options. 

Please be advised of the following updates:

Continuation of Fertility Treatment Cycles

At this time, we are proceeding with cycles for patients that are currently in stim under the directive of their physician. We will continue to provide a safe environment for the patients to be seen in our office during their treatment cycle.

We are rescheduling appointments for anyone who was scheduled to start their cycle between now and March 30th or later as nationally recommended depending on local government shelter ordinances. This includes intrauterine inseminations (IUIs), in vitro fertilization (IVF) including retrievals and transfers (fresh and frozen). The decision to suspend all new treatment cycles was not made lightly and was made with the goal of keeping our patients and staff safe. We are committed to resuming treatment cycles as soon as possible.

Refund Policy for Any Cycle Disruptions Due to COVID-19

Again, we are proceeding with cycles for patients that are currently in stim under the directive of their physician. If, during the course of a scheduled cycle, a patient begins to demonstrate symptoms of illness and/or has a confirmed exposure to COVID-19, the cycle may be delayed or cancelled subject to the discretion of our medical professionals. If it is determined that your cycle must be delayed or canceled due to COVID-19 related issues, we will issue a credit for medical expenses incurred from cycle start through cycle cancellation (minus medication expenses). Credit balances will be established on a case-by-case basis. We are not able to extend credit toward products or services provided by third parties (products or services provided by third parties include but not limited to medications, phlebotomy, anesthesia, genetic testing, tissue storage fees, etc).

Telemedicine Appointments

If you are not currently in a cycle, telemedicine consults will be the only option to consult with your physician until further notice. Please direct questions concerning insurance coverage or out-of-pocket expenses for these telemedicine options to our clinic staff.

While the COVID-19 situation can feel stressful and even a bit overwhelming we don’t want it to delay your dream of having a child even longer than is safely necessary. There are many steps that can be accomplished through telemedicine appointments now. To help you continue your fertility journey beyond the new patient appointment, we are working on options to offer in home diagnostic testing. Our goal is to help you move forward in your fertility journey now so that as soon as we are able to resume normal patient care you are closer to achieving your family building dreams.

Prevention & Treatment of COVID-19

For those patients that will still be coming in to complete their cycle, please be advised that any patients entering the clinic will be screened related to current health, travel history, and COVID-19 exposure. If you are already experiencing flu-like symptoms or have recently traveled to a high risk country and you are currently in treatment or are scheduled to come in for an appointment or procedure, we ask that you call our office immediately to discuss your options.

Social Distancing – Single Guest Policy

Please be advised that, until further notice, our clinic is implementing a single guest policy. We suggest that all patients undergoing monitoring do so alone. Only one guest will be permitted to accompany any patient while onsite. Additionally, children and animals are not permitted in the office at this time. For the safety of our patients and staff, any individual who demonstrates a cough will be asked to leave the facility.

Please review our COVID-19 FAQs below.

We are here to answer any specific questions you have. Please feel free to call our office to speak with one of our team members. We will continue to provide updates on our website and social media. We are honored you have chosen us to manage your care during your fertility journey and are here to help guide you.

Q: Does COVID-19 impact fertility?

Currently, there is no published data or information to suggest that COVID-19 impacts fertility.

Q: Should I delay seeing a fertility specialist in light of COVID-19?

Most individuals of reproductive age are not considered “high-risk” for COVID-19, and therefore it is not necessary to delay your new patient consult. We are offering telemedicine appointments for both new patient and follow-up consultations that do not require in-office examination. Scheduling this appointment now will push you further down the path to starting your family.  There are many steps that can be completed now through telemedicine appointments.

Q: Do you recommend that I postpone any attempt at getting pregnant until the virus is contained?

Please continue to review guidance from the CDC related to COVID-19 and pregnancy here. You may wish to delay pregnancy if you have traveled to high risk areas, been in close contact with someone who has traveled to high risk areas, or if you are feeling ill. If you think you might have been exposed to the virus, self-quarantining for 14 days after the last known exposure to the virus has been recommended by the CDC. If you are ill, have your primary care provider order a COVID-19 test from a commercial lab. The result will determine if you have an infection or are free of COVID-19.

Q: Are my eggs/embryos/sperm at risk of exposure to COVID-19?

No. Our laboratories are designed to specifications for complete containment of recombinant DNA. It has a positive pressure air handling system, HEPA filtration system, and maintains extremely rigorous cleaning and quality assurance protocols at all times. It is also located separately from areas where patients are seen for monitoring, appointments, examinations, or procedures. Our laboratory is CAP accredited and therefore adheres to all best practices for safety and infection prevention.

Q: What happens if I get exposed to COVID-19 during my IVF cycle?

If you demonstrate symptoms of COVID-19, or if you are confirmed to have COVID-19, your cycle will mostly likely be delayed or canceled. This decision is not made lightly, as we understand the impact of cycle cancellation on our patients and their fertility journeys. This decision will protect you (if your respiratory system is compromised due to infection, it is unsafe to undergo anesthesia, which further suppresses respiration), and will also protect thousands of patients and staff from potential exposure. If one of our providers determines that your cycle must be delayed or canceled due to COVID-19 illness-related issues, we will issue a credit balance in accordance with services rendered during the cycle. Credit balances will be established on a case-by-case basis. We are not able to extend credit toward products or services provided by third parties (products or services provided by third parties include but not limited to medications, phlebotomy, anesthesia, genetic testing, tissue storage fees, etc).

Q: Will my clinic shut down for a period of time?

No. We do not intend to shut down for any period of time. We have a team of clinical and administrative staff who are committed to providing the most effective care possible, in the safest environment possible. While the day to day practice might not look the same, there are many people behind the scenes still committed to helping you achieve your dream of having a family.

Additional Resources

aff-asrm
aff-fertile-hope
aff-resolve
aff-sart