According to published CDC data, there were an estimated 400,000 in vitro fertilization or IVF cycles conducted in the US last year, and 4,000 cycles reported in the St. Louis area alone. With so many patients seeking fertility care across the US, IVF centers have a commitment to both success and safety for their patients and staff.
While situations like the one that came out of Southern California recently are heartbreaking, they are exceedingly rare. Nevertheless, all of us at STL Fertility are committed to making the patient experience one that is successful, safe, and highly transparent – every day.
We had the opportunity to speak with Dr. Molina Dayal, Medical Director, and Jennifer Hart, MS, TS (ABB), Laboratory Manager to learn about the processes and technologies used at STL Fertility to reduce risk and improve outcomes for both providers and patients.
“Our staff has the highest levels of respect for the materials they are working with every day. The standards of safety and quality control couldn’t be higher at STL Fertility,” stated Dr. Dayal. “When we took over the business, we invested in an electronic witnessing platform called Matcher which is used in the lab to make sure the right sperm and egg go together. Witnessing technologies like this are designed to alert staff before errors are made,” Dr. Dayal added.
Dr. Dayal added, “STL Fertility is the only IVF center in STL with an electronic witnessing platform. However, after the story from LA last week, I’m sure others will follow our lead here in St. Louis.”
Jen Hart reflected on how despite in-depth training and technology, embryologists are always looking for more ways to improve outcomes and transparency “No matter how skilled and diligent we are, we’re still human. That’s why technologies like Matcher coupled with a new fingerprint security system we’re rolling out as part of the witness system and EMR, ensure that the chain of custody of a patient’s eggs, sperm, and embryos is unbroken.”
Matcher is a barcode-based electronic IVF double witnessing, labeling, scheduling, and traceability system, specifically created for IVF clinics and donor banks to help prevent errors through misidentification of patients and their gametes and embryos. You can learn more about Matcher by visiting https://www.imtinternational.com.
Often the unsung heroes of any IVF center, embryologists are highly trained, scientifically minded, but always prioritize patient care and have the patient’s best interest top of mind. A 2019 survey of US Embryologists (n=299) found that nearly 60% experience moderate to high levels of stress working with gametes. Jen Hart commented, “We have a rigorous hiring and training program for the lab. If you don’t have a healthy amount of anxiety when working in a human IVF lab, you’re likely not the right fit. If you don’t respect what you’re working with, you can’t work here.”
Outside of Matcher, STL Fertility maintains a series of other processes to make sure safety is connected to success.
Dr. Dayal commented, “believe it or not, many centers don’t use a contemporary electronic medical records (EMR) platform that can be integrated with tools like Matcher to link the chain of custody from the first appointment to embryo transfer. We’re in the middle of moving to a new and more advanced EMR. It’s a significant investment but patient care demands it.”
STL Fertility’s commitment to safety and security also extends to non-digital tools as well, making sure every patient has the right “space,” Dr. Dayal explains, “When it comes to the number of incubators in the lab, we invested in more incubators to make sure every patient has their own space or room so to speak, within each incubator to reduce risk of error.”
With deep roots in the St. Louis community, our team of experts at STL Fertility Dr. Molina Dayal, Dr. Maureen Schulte, and Melanie Miranda NP provide the high touch and hands-on experience that fertility patients expect, supported by unparalleled success rates.
STL Fertility is the only 100% locally and female-owned fertility center based in St. Louis. In August 2020, the physicians took full ownership of SIRM St. Louis Fertility Center from their former parent company and relaunched the practice as STL Fertility. While the name has changed, the commitment and mission haven’t: It’s about helping one patient at a time find an individualized path to fertility success.
Have a question about getting or staying pregnant? Connect with STL Fertility today