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NIAGARA FALLS MEMORIAL TO EXPAND WITH ADDITION OF WOMEN'S HEALTH: Celebrated OB/GYN practice to result in baby boom here

By Dr. Chitra Selvaraj

Niagara County's busiest obstetrics and gynecology practice will be partnering with Niagara Falls Memorial Medical Center to provide high-quality patient care beginning Monday, Aug. 1. Memorial President and CEO Joseph A. Ruffolo said the expertise of Dr. Renee Taefi Baughman and her team, combined with the skill and experience of the nursing staff at Memorial's Mary C. Dyster Women's Pavilion, will provide a true center of excellence for women's healthcare services.

"Dr. Baughman and her partners, Dr. Donna Feldman and Dr. Rachel G. Weselak, have led the way in pioneering a holistic model of women's healthcare that includes nutrition management, fertility services, weight-loss programming, menopausal management, laser hair removal, cancer screening, acupuncture and herbal medicine, along with high-quality obstetrics and gynecology," Ruffolo said. "Their board-certified providers share our commitment to excellence, and we look forward to working with them to provide the best possible care."

Dr. Baughman said the decision to partner with the Niagara Falls hospital was made to better serve their patients.

"We really took a look at what Niagara Falls Memorial had to offer," she said. "They came to us and we researched it and were very impressed with the facilities. They're beautiful state-of-the-art facilities, the rooms are huge, and our patients can labor, deliver and recover in the same room, which is nice.

"All of the rooms are private, and have their own shower and central fetal monitoring, which is absolutely like an obstetrician's dream," she added. "No matter where you are, if you are sitting at the desk, you can see the baby's status at all times. The anesthesia service over there is outstanding."

Dr. Baughman trained in Buffalo and was a University of Buffalo resident. The same group of anesthesiologists she worked with at Buffalo Children's and Buffalo General are also now working out of NFMMC, she said.

"I can't say enough good things about them. So I know them well, they are very reliable, they put obstetrics very high on their priorities, and when you are practicing obstetrics you have to have an outstanding anesthesia service," Baughman said. "Your patient is going to remember their pain and what kind of experience they had. I have two kids of my own, and I sent the anesthesiologist a Thank You card when I was back home."

Previously, Women's Medicine of Niagara worked out of both Mount St. Mary's Hospital in Lewiston and NFMMC. The decision to move to the Niagara Falls facility was made for several reasons, she said. "Part of the reason for that is because part of what we do is offer sterilization to females, and through the Catholic system we couldn't do that," Baughman said. "We've also been very impressed with the surgery department and with its management, and the quality of the staff at Memorial. So we took this opportunity to form an alliance, and we're very excited about it. We want our patients to leave the hospital feeling like they had a good experience and a very safe experience, and we feel we can get those things over there."

The practice moving to the newly renovated labor and delivery wing at Memorial will double the number of births at the hospital, according to NFMMC spokesman Pat Bradley.

"We are guessing this is going to put us at about 850 the first year, and over the next two to three years we expect that is going to go to over 1,000 deliveries per year," he said. "That is the figure we are working with."

The increased number of births expected also creates the need for increased staffing, he added.

"We have posted a few openings, and are interviewing," Bradley said. "It's being worked out between Dr. Baughman's group and our Human Resources Department to analyze just what the need is, and we will make the right moves to meet the need, to make sure they have the resources they need to give their patients the care they deserve."

Dr. Baughman said it makes good sense to centralize child birthing here.

"If you take Niagara County, and you are spreading their deliveries over two hospitals, you have fewer resources at each place. That was a big issue for us," she said. "But if you can combine them and get them all at one place, you have more resources available to get better facilities and better services." Memorial's larger staff was also a factor in making the move, she added.

"The problem with labor and delivery is, you never know when things are going to go bad," Baughman said. "There could be a day when nothing is going on, and then you have three patients come in at the same time with emergency situations, and so you need to have the staff available to take care of that, and Memorial is offering that."

Baughman emphasized that she and the other members of the Women's Medicine of Niagara staff will maintain their current offices at 5320 Military Road, Suite 104, in Lewiston, and at 2279 Grand Island Boulevard, Grand Island.

"In this day and age, lots of people are looking to not do just traditional medicine -- they want to know a lot more -- so I've had to educate myself, and so did everyone else, because you don't get that in medical school," she said. "It has gotten us a lot more involved with seminars and conferences, and now we sell supplements, run a weight-loss program that's not about counting points or calories but is all about teaching you to eat a lower glycemic diet. It's all about education, teaching you the right things to eat, and it has been a great success."

Acupuncture and laser hair removal are other services offered by the holistic practice, Baughman added.

"People come in every day who don't want to go on drugs, they don't want to have surgery. They want to try things more naturally, and at least we can offer them that option," she said. "A lot of women want hair removal in the vulvar area. Who better to do that than your gynecologist? So we have branched out into many areas."

Bradley said the new practice looks like a success even before its official start.

"Our phones have been ringing off the hook since we have been running ads in the papers, including your own, about this. Linda Hayes, who is our director of Women's Services, tells me she spends about one third of her day fielding phone calls from patients and telling patients more about us," he said. "She brings them through and shows them our facilities, and they walk out with their jaws dropped around their knees, saying, "I had no idea that Niagara Falls had something this nice to offer people like me." They are flabbergasted."

Niagara Falls Reporter www.niagarafallsreporter.com July 26, 2011