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Superior OB-GYN care to meet every need

January 05, 2023 | UCI Health
High-risk UCI Health maternity specialist Dr. Carol Major reassures Litiola Foloifo, who was facing premature delivery.

Litiola Foloifo, left, hospitalized to prevent premature delivery, learns from UCI Health high-risk maternity specialist Dr. Carol Major how they are working to slow her labor to allow the baby's lungs and other organs more time to develop. Foloifo went on to deliver a healthy son. Photo by Michael Der for UCI Health

With UCI Health consistently ranked as one of the nation's leaders in women's health, its gynecologists and obstetricians are dedicated to meeting the full scope of reproductive needs of the women of Orange County and beyond.

Believing reproductive healthcare to be a fundamental human right, the OB-GYN team provides the most complex, comprehensive and inclusive care — from general gynecology and family planning needs to maternal-fetal care, childbirth and postpartum health, says UCI Health obstetrician Dr. Tabetha R. Harken, a professor of obstetrics and gynecology at the UCI School of Medicine.

And as Orange County's only academic health system, this commitment extends to training the healthcare specialists of tomorrow to meet their patients' every reproductive need, something UCI Health is uniquely qualified to do.

"We have Orange County's only Level I adult trauma center and Level III neonatal intensive care unit," Harken says. "No matter how sick somebody is when they come through our doors, we are fully prepared to care for them because we have all the specialties covered."

UCI Health has long been a leader in treating high-risk pregnancies. Women from across the region are referred to UCI Health maternal-fetal medicine specialists because of their expertise. 

"We lead the state's maternal quality care initiative to end preventable morbidity, mortality and racial disparities in maternity care," Harken says. "Our robust research team is driving innovation and improving maternal health practices nationally.

"And our Women's Options Center, led by specialists in complex family planning, offers patients and their families an integrated team that includes genetic counselors, high-risk obstetricians, interventional radiologists, care coordinators and, most important, expert perinatal loss nursing care."

When UCI Health OB-GYN clinicians encounter ectopic pregnancies, miscarriages, genetic abnormalities, placenta accreta and other medical challenges, they strive to deliver the most advanced care for mother and child, as well as ensure that each patient's "autonomy and wishes are protected, respected and supported," she adds.  

That's not the case everywhere in Orange County, where one in five acute care hospitals is religiously affiliated, which allows them to deny certain medical procedures based on the institution's religious convictions.

That goes against the grain at UCI Health and the UCI School of Medicine, where medical students are taught that all patients have autonomy and the essential right to make decisions about their care.

"Since last year's U.S. Supreme Court decision overturning the national right to abortion, all University of California hospitals have come together to create a safe haven for women and their families, including those who live in states that restrict patient autonomy and violate the physician-patient relationship," Harken says.

"As an educational institution, a clinical training facility and health system, we are committed to serving the most vulnerable patients who are denied access to care elsewhere and whose right to make their own medical decisions have been restricted. At UCI Health, we deliver the highest level of comprehensive, inclusive care to meet the needs of all people in our region."

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