Avera Medical Minute: Specialists review ultrasounds from remote locations

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PIPESTONE, MN (DAKOTA NEWS NOW) - Receiving prenatal care is important wherever you live. Nicole Nelson of Pipestone is due this month and looks forward to seeing her baby at her ultrasound appointment. "Get a glimpse of the baby while I'm waiting these last couple weeks," said Nelson.

ultrasounds in remote communities reviewed by specialists

Everything has been going fine with the pregnancy, but she knows how important it is to have an ultrasound, which could detect any medical concerns.

Dr. Jodi Scott, an Avera obstetrician in Pipestone, says Nelson doesn't need to travel for the ultrasound. "Most patients have an ultrasound at 12 to 13 weeks. They do not need to go to Sioux Falls for that but the Sioux Falls perinatologists do read those ultrasounds," said Scott.

Knowing a team of caregivers in Sioux Falls is ready to help with any concerns is reassuring. Dr. Jason Picconi, Avera maternal-fetal medicine specialist, says they can learn a lot from the results. "We can read those ultrasounds and identify potential problems very early on at these outlying institutions and have them referred here," said Dr. Picconi.

With care right at home and specialists available for an e-care consult, the convenience means a better level of prenatal care. "I have maternal-fetal medicine as an extension of my practice, that I can always get my patients there if they need something more than we can provide here," said Scott.

The ultrasound is read the same, whether the patient is in a large facility or a small-town clinic according to Dr. Oscar Viteri, Avera maternal-fetal medicine specialist. "It allows us to reach the most isolated regions in the state in a very efficient manner," said Dr. Viteri.

"Just having care in my hometown where I work makes it very convenient, especially when you're traveling weekly for visits at the end of the pregnancy," said Nelson.

And if an emergency develops..."I can send a plane, I can send a transport, have the patient here in hours if need be, so the treatment can be provided," said Dr. Viteri.

The goal is the same level of care, any time a patient enters the door of an Avera facility.

"Take care of these patients who have significant complications, increased risk for either Mom's health or baby's health, or both. So we can get them delivered safely, get them recovered and get them back to their families," said Dr. Picconi.

"Oh I love delivering babies, I mean, you have to love delivering babies if you're willing to put up with the hours because we work in the middle of the night all the time and that's just how it goes," said Scott.

And whenever Nicole's baby decides to arrive, the team in Pipestone and Sioux Falls will be there. "So we're ready," said Nelson.

Maternal-fetal medicine specialists in Sioux Falls review up to 500 ultrasounds each month remotely.