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DES MOINES, Iowa – Telehealth has surged in popularity during the pandemic, allowing doctors and medical professionals to meet patients from anywhere, virtually. 

Providing telehealth services for women with at-risk pregnancies isn’t anything new for MercyOne, what’s expanding is where they’re being offered.

Dr. Neil Mandsager with MercyOne Perinatal has provided these telehealth appointments for patients in rural Iowa for years.

“Women who are at risk of complicated pregnancies don’t necessarily settle in large cities,” Dr. Mandsager said. “They’re just as likely to live in Algona as they are in West Des Moines.”

His reach extends to Pella, Mason City, and now Waterloo.

It was back on Feb. 4 when Dr. Mandsager was supposed to go to Waterloo for an appointment when a snowstorm hit. Instead of traveling in the wintry conditions, plans were put in place to have the telehealth clinic at MercyOne Waterloo.

Dr. Mandsager was able to evaluate moms and babies remotely. The ultrasound imaging was done in Waterloo, but he’s able to read it in Des Moines. He says this is an important tool in providing safe deliveries, while also saving patients time and travel.

“It’s a great benefit to both providers that are looking for some additional support and caring for some of these high risk women, but also for the patients themselves. [They] can get the same level of care without having to travel to Des Moines to get it.”

While the goal is to keep patients local, MercyOne does have capabilities to transport them for care if needed.

“It’s really important that we help the rural physicians evaluate and monitor these patients to provide them a safe delivery. It’s also important to identify the babies that may be better served by delivering at a tertiary center than at a small hospital.”

Dr. Mandsager said the idea to expand to Waterloo was already in mind, but they were able to accomplish it a little sooner because of the pandemic. He hopes to expand this service to other hospitals across the state in the future.