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NEWS | Aug. 20, 2013

Four clinics; one mission - Women's Health and Ultrasound

By Staff Sgt. Stephanie Rubi 633rd Air Base Wing Public Affairs

Editor's Note: This is part of a series covering Women's Health, Ultrasound, Labor and Delivery, and Pediatrics.

The journey ahead may seem unpredictable and chaotic, but expecting parents can receive the care they need from Langley Air Force Base Hospital's clinics, where a knowledgeable staff is available to guide them through their journey.

Women's Health, Radiology, Labor and Delivery, and Pediatrics play a vital role in the well-being of an expecting mother and her baby. The first area new parents will visit is Obstetrics in the Women's Health Clinic and ultrasound in the Radiology Clinic.

After receiving a positive pregnancy test from a primary health care provider, the patient will be referred to the WHC. The first appointment is to assess the overall health of the mother-to-be. Parents often will hear their baby's heartbeat for the first time.

"The best part of my job is when I hear fetal heart tones," said U.S. Air Force Senior Airman Randi Robertson, 633rd Surgical Operations Squadron aerospace medical technician. "I remember thinking, 'Oh my gosh,' the very first time I heard a baby's heartbeat. I think I was more excited than the parents were."

After the first appointment at WHC, a series of planned appointments begin.

The WHC is staffed with obstetrics and gynecologist physicians, certified nurse-midwives, nurse practitioners, residents, registered nurses, medical technicians and administrative personnel ready to assist expecting parents at each appointment through the 40-week gestation period.

Between 10 to 12 weeks of gestation, the patient will be seen for their second appointment and at 16 weeks, the baby is tested for chromosomal abnormalities. At the 16- to 20-week point, the mother-to-be will have her first appointment with an ultrasound technician.

U.S. Army Private 1st Class Samantha Soto, 359th Inland Cargo Transfer Company cargo specialist, visited both clinics within her first and second trimester.

"I first visited the WHC and I had a very pleasant experience. Everyone was so kind and sweet to me," said Soto, during her visit to ultrasound. "Now I get to see my baby and find out what I am having; all I am hoping for is a happy and healthy baby."

U.S. Air Force Tech. Sgt. Tamra Whiting, 633rd Surgical Operations Squadron ultrasound noncommissioned officer in charge, performed the ultrasound for Soto.

"It's a girl," Whiting told Soto, during her appointment. "I've been an ultrasound technician for 10 years and I still love it. I get to share that special moment with my patients and it's such a rewarding feeling."

During an ultrasound, the technician measures various areas such as the head, umbilical cord and spine to guarantee the baby's growth is on schedule with the gestation period. Technicians also have the ability to detect any abnormalities.

"Early detection is crucial to mother and child," said Whiting. "If something is detected, it allows time for radiologists, obstetrics and parents to create a plan for baby and mother prior to delivery."

According to U.S. Air Force Lt. Col. Pinero, 633rd Surgical Operations Squadron ultrasound flight commander and radiologist, ultrasounds are the safest way to monitor a baby.

"There is no radiation involved and we can perform as many ultrasounds as needed to make sure the baby is healthy without causing any harm," said Pinero "Ultrasounds are 100 percent safe for mom and baby."

After the ultrasound is complete, a radiologist reviews what the technician has captured and discusses all findings with the obstetric physician. The patient will then return to the WHC for a follow-up appointment to discuss the results.

At 28 weeks, the expecting mother is tested for gestational diabetes. After 36 weeks the patient will return every week until delivery to ensure the well-being of the mother and baby.

WHC also offers parent nutrition, gestational diabetes, child birthing, and breastfeeding classes to educate and prepare new parents for pregnancy and child birth.

"Every appointment is educational," said U.S. Air Force Maj. Kawana Rawls, 633rd Surgical Operations Squadron WHC flight commander. "We have an understanding staff that is willing to answer any and all questions. Our staff builds strong bonds with patients and even friendships. In my opinion, we have an amazing staff that truly cares."

Rawls assures expecting parents that although a long journey is ahead of them that they can rest assured that their care is a number one priority, no question will go unanswered and the staff will go to unbelievable lengths to assist them.

For questions or to schedule an appointment with the Women's Health or Radiology Clinic please contact the Langley AFB Hospital at 764-7630.