Dr. Edward Tarnawa, Medical Director of PREG’s Lowcountry Center, Looks Ahead to 2022
Doc, after 17 months of operation in the Lowcountry can you give us an update?
It’s been great! First of all, I couldn’t imagine a finer staff or facility. A group of skilled and experienced individuals formerly with the Fertility Center of Charleston stuck with us and it’s been amazing to see how they’ve adapted to their roles with PREG. Dr. Snow and I know how fortunate we are to have them with us. We’re also flattered to have been voted Charleston’s Choice for best Fertility Specialist in our first year here in the Lowcountry.
In terms of the practice overall, it’s just continued to grow and build from day one. More and more patients know about and are hearing about us from their doctors, word of mouth, and their friends. It’s neat to watch that grow and I witnessed this in Columbia and watched that practice grow to the point that where it is now and I feel we’re on the same, if not an even more, accelerated pace in the Lowcountry.
You added Dr. Snow to the practice this year and how is that going?
That’s been one of the most exciting things over the past year. Dr. Snow came to us from Duke where she completed her fellowship in August of 2021, and she’s just been phenomenal. The patients and staff love her and she’s brilliant, thoughtful, and confident. I think all those things are very important and I have to remind myself that she’s not even a year into her career at this point given how smoothly the transition has been.
Reflect on your time at PREG within the last year and all that has happened?
I think the thing that immediately comes to mind is that joining PREG was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. The group of people I work with, the practice guidance, and the care we provide all make that the case. Really the sky is the limit with PREG. It’s rare to have a practice such as ours that’s both widespread in terms of patient access and physician-owned and controlled as opposed to being managed by a large non-medical investment entity. It benefits the patients and the people that work for PREG. I don’t think there could be a better fertility center to be a part of anywhere.
Recently you had a patient who posted a YouTube video about her experience with you, can you comment?
Yeah, I’ve heard a little bit about that and I’m certainly thrilled for her and think it’s a neat way for her to be able to tell her story. I’m not ultra social-media savvy, but I appreciate its importance. I hope she’s been able to give inspiration to other patients in earlier stages of their fertility journeys. She’s not the only one that has been able to generate awareness and a presence through social media, and that’s a neat thing. The more people who can make others aware of what we offer, the better.
Tell us about the new Lowcountry facility and offices.
Wonderful people and a state-of-the-art facility, complemented by all. We’ve only been here a few months, but it feels like we’ve never been anywhere else. We’ve got it finely tuned and functioning just how we want it to operate. We’re fully accredited as an ambulatory surgical center and are about to expand the services we offer to include hysteroscopy under anesthesia where we can address things like intrauterine adhesions, fibroids, polyps, and developmental abnormalities, and that’s a huge plus. The IVF lab continues to grow and we’re excited to welcome a new lab director in the new year.
What’s ahead in the new year?
I think it’s always about gaining every edge that we can in terms of IVF success, which is already a highly effective treatment for infertility. Our focus remains on pushing the envelope even further in terms of success and there are a lot of new testing platforms becoming available that we’re scrutinizing at PREG in terms of endometrial performance and selecting the best embryos out of the group that has already passed rigorous testing to ensure they are chromosomally normal.
What are your hopes and challenges for PREG in the new year?
Our challenges actually represent sources of excitement in terms of meeting the demand we have for our services at all of our centers. In Greenville, we’re remodeling the center to evolve with the times to make it more efficient for the staff and meet our patients’ needs as optimally as possible. In Columbia, the number of patients continues to grow and we’re looking forward to welcoming new physicians at that center. In the Lowcountry, we look forward to continuing to get the practice and Dr. Snow established. Like I said before, the sky is the limit. In 2022 our new lab director will be firmly settled and focus on helping all of our IVF labs to function in harmony, synchrony, and as optimally as anywhere in the country. Dr. Chen comes from a thriving IVF lab and egg bank on the West Coast and there’s no one more experienced in egg freezing than she is.
Dr. Tarnawa, how are you and what are you looking forward to in 2022?
My family and I are doing well and looking forward to feeling more at home in the Summerville community. We just finished renovating a home in the historic district and have already made lots of new friends. It feels good being in what most consider a small town and, as a practice, we’ll continue to engage Summerville while maintaining both personal and professional relationships and connections in the Greater Charleston area.
Doc, you went to MUSC so describe what it’s like to return to the Lowcountry?
MUSC has always been extremely important to me. It’s where I did my residency and got the foundation for what I do now. I’ve kept all those professional relationships near and dear to me for years and it’s great to have them so close to me now. Dr. Snow and I look forward to getting more involved with MUSC in terms of resident training and doing the same in the Summerville area where the Trident healthcare system is about to start an OB/GYN residency program, as well.
What’s your message for current and prospective patients in 2022?
I will always recommend and support optimism, both personally and professionally, and I believe it’s very important in the work we do. There are always options and we are here to talk through all of them with our patients.
What’s ahead in the field?
Embryonic genetic testing has been an important part of our field for years, and it’s important for our patients to understand the capabilities and limitations of such testing before deciding whether, or not, to implement it into their care. The next frontier is determining, out of a group of embryos that have tested normal, which ones have the greatest potential, and we’ll keep a close watch on these developments for our patients. There are also opportunities for genetic testing prior to fertility treatment in the form of parental carrier screening which is an ever-expanding testing platform and we have relationships with related labs to ensure our patients always have cutting-edge access.
What is ahead for you professionally?
As we’ve already touched on, I’m looking forward to expanding my relationship with MUSC. As a group, we’re looking forward to exploring clinical research opportunities which was an important focus before COVID. The pandemic led to a halt, but I expect things to open back up in the near future.
How has the pandemic impacted infertility care and treatment?
In terms of infertility care in our region, I’d say minimally. Like other industries, we didn’t know what to expect with COVID. In retrospect, I think it led to a renewed focus on the family for a lot of individuals and couples out there, leading to a robust opportunity to explore treatment. Regarding access to care, we took and still implement thoughtful measures to minimize related risks in our offices, including the availability of virtual patient encounters.
How has PREG’s new patient portal impacted interacting with patients?
Like with any new system, it remains a work in progress. It’s intended to provide our patients with more convenient access to our staff and their health information, but it takes a while to fully appreciate and exploit its capabilities. I can’t think of a more dynamic fertility center in the region and we’re going to continue to look for ways to maximize our patients’ outcomes, access, and options.
Dr. Tarnawa, address PREG’s “One Baby at a Time” mission
Lots of people have misconceptions that our treatments are a bit unrestrained when it comes to the risk of multiple pregnancies. There’s an initiative across our field to minimize this risk and, nowadays, multiple pregnancies represent a small percentage of those that result from our treatments. Something patients don’t initially realize is that IVF, the most effective and efficient treatment we offer, is actually associated with the lowest risk of multiple pregnancies. This is yet another reason to consider it from the outset. We also take steps in our non-IVF treatments to minimize the risk of multiple pregnancies, ones which may not be as important of a focus at other fertility centers in the region.
PREG has comprehensive fertility and IVF centers in Greenville, Columbia, and the Lowcountry along with offices in Spartanburg and Asheville. We offer highly personalized fertility care and management. Dr. Tarnawa is accepting new patients at our Lowcountry center. For more information on reproductive options contact us today at 866.725.7734 or online at http://www.pregonline.com/contact-us.php
5500 Front Street
Summerville, SC 29486
P: (843) 881.7400