UW maternal clinic opens in Smokey Point

SMOKEY POINT ­­— The fast-growing community of Smokey Point is gaining a university-based medical clinic that specializes in healthcare for women with difficult or dangerous pregnancies.

A University of Washington Maternal Fetal Medicine Clinic officially opened Tuesday on the second floor of the Cascade Skagit Health Alliance building at 3823 172nd St. in Arlington.

A handful of people came in last week, prior to the clinic’s formal opening, for ultrasounds and other prenatal tests, said Dr. Jane Hitti, a maternal fetal medicine specialist and professor at the University of Washington.

The clinic accepts referrals from doctors throughout northwest Washington. It offers early genetic screening and coordinated care for both mother and child through Seattle Children’s Hospital, two resources that most local healthcare providers do not have access to, Hitti said.

Some of the most common pregnancy complications that doctors at the clinic handle are diabetes, hypertension, birth defects and multiple pregnancies, meaning twins, triplets or more.

The clinic accepts most insurance plans, and there are options for women who are uninsured or low-income, Hitti said.

“We’re committed to being able to provide access to everyone, and we’ll look at ways we can do that,” she said.

Doctors rotate shifts at the clinic, which generally have a physician and a genetic counselor working at the same time. Genetic counselors specialize in screening for diseases or other complications, Hitti said. For example, one blood test can detect Down Syndrome as early as 12 weeks into a pregnancy.

Currently, the clinic can handle between eight and 12 patients per day.

The clinic area lines a single hallway, with an ultrasound room, offices and a meeting room for counseling. Space has been set aside along a second hallway to expand the clinic in the future.

“I anticipate that there’s going to be a pretty rapid growth trajectory at this location,” Hitti said. “Judging by what we’ve seen this week, it’s going to be a challenge to grow appropriately and keep up with demand.”

Though the university’s maternal fetal medicine clinic is new to Smokey Point, it has been in Snohomish County for nearly 15 years. It was previously located at Providence Regional Medical Center in Everett, according to UW Medicine spokeswoman Kim Blakeley. Providence recently ended its contract with the university and now partners with Swedish Health Services.

The clinic found a new home at Cascade Skagit Health Alliance, relocating over the course of eight weeks to keep a foothold in Snohomish County, Hitti said.

The move is an opportunity, she said. The clinic can provide more accessible care for people who previously drove from Bellington or Mount Vernon to Everett and Seattle for their appointments.

The University of Washington now has three maternal fetal medicine clinics across the state, with the others located in Seattle and Yakima.

Kari Bray: 425-339-3439; kbray@heraldnet.com.

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