Tracy Shevell, MD, is founder of Blue Moon Perinatal and has been a High Risk OB-GYN for 16 years. “I chose to do High Risk OBGYN because I was always drawn to the most complex cases, encompassing needs of both mother and baby,” says Dr. Shevell. But over the last five years, she’s noticed it’s become harder to give moms-to-be and new moms all the attention and support they need and deserve. To fill the gap in care, Dr. Shevell recently launched Blue Moon Perinatal, where she can offer one-on-one sessions to clients as a “bonus doctor” to support them in conjunction with their primary OB-GYN. Her goal is to educate and empower women to advocate for themselves while increasing accessibility and support. We spoke this Dr. Shevell about this amazing new venture:
Can you please elaborate on what has happened in the field of obstetrics over the past few years?
I began to feel like the system was able to give less and less to patients, and providing complex coordinated care was becoming harder and harder. I would make recommendations to patients only to find they couldn’t get what they needed at the other end, or there was communication breakdown, or logistic issues. Maternal mental health care became clearly a huge issue, but there was very little resource at the back end once the question was asked and answered. I just felt as if all of the nurturing and the support was being sucked out of medicine.
How did Blue Moon Perinatal come about?
Blue Moon Perinatal was born out of the idea of giving back what was being left out. I realized that I not only had the medical background to, in regular language, explain even the most complex of situations and provide support, but add to it 20 years of seeing thousands of outcomes, and speak to fears in a data driven way. I could see the whole picture, get moms off Google, and address the sticky stuff so many people hate to address. I have built up a huge resource base over the years, and so I can see what women are missing and be not just a medical resource, but a guide, a coordinator, to take the whole picture and help fill in what’s missing. I can recommend therapists, psychiatrists, holistic and integrative medicine practitioners to help a woman through her journey—none of whom are afraid to care for pregnant women. I’ve cared for so many of my friends during their pregnancies—and this is a natural extension of all the things I gave them outside of the office.
How is Blue Moon Perinatal different than a traditional OB-GYN practice?
Blue Moon Perinatal is a complement to a woman’s OBGYN practice. I will be there to explain, to guide, counsel, hear your fears and address them in a way that I’m your “bonus doctor” and I’m here for you whenever you need me. I offer one time sessions or the opportunity to work with me for longer periods of time. And when we make that commitment, I offer you my time—you use the time when and how you wish; a 15 minute check in before a visit, an hour long session to cry, a 30 minute session to prepare for an upcoming visit—I’m here whenever you need me. I also offer access to my email and text service the more we work together. I want you to imagine your best friend also happens to be a doctor.
What do you love most about your job?
The best part of my job is a happy ending after a long and complicated journey. The rewards of OBGYN are pretty sweet, but they are even sweeter after you’ve been to hell and back to get there. While “like” might not be the right word, I also find it incredibly important in my specialty that I handle giving scary news or support after risk has been discussed in a way that even in dark times, my patients feel like I am truly there for them.
Who is the typical client for Blue Moon Perinatal?
There is no typical client. However, based on the levels of service I provide, I see women coming to me in 3 different ways. First, the client who just has a simple question or needs help with a minor issues. One session, two sessions, done. Next, the patient who has a somewhat self-limited issue and needs about 5 hours of time—someone with an abnormal ultrasound finding they need to work though in terms of a plan, a postpartum issue that resolves quickly, needing extra support after a miscarriage. Then, the patient who really wants me to be there for them for a longer haul—though infertility struggles to conception, through their pregnancy, through a rough diagnosis until after birth and they feel like they are back on their feet again. Those are the most common scenarios I envision.
What are your goals for the business this first year? And ultimately?
For the first year, I think my main challenge and goal is to get the word out to women that services like mine even exist—and should be expected. I want women to realize that they should feel supported and if they don’t should be seeking advocacy. I want to call more attention to supporting women struggling with depression and anxiety during the reproductive process. Ultimately, I want this model to become so successful and have so much attention that corporations, insurance companies and hospitals can realize this type of service is a patient satisfier, a risk reducer for OBGYNs, and a needed model to improved overall outcomes. When this is the case, these types of services would be available to all women regardless of their demographic.
If a mom to be is struggling and not sure she’s getting “heard” at her appointments, what advice would you give her?
Make sure you do not EVER apologize—for being “neurotic” or “nervous” or say you’re sorry—for asking questions. Make it clear that you are advocating for your baby. Make sure that you are aware that by being better informed by your doctor you are protecting them as much as you are yourself and your child. It’s all about the narrative we spin. Be clear you and your doctor are a partnership—and it’s your job TOGETHER to get the best possible outcome. Insist on being heard—and if you’re not, ask who else is available to hear you.
Anything else you’d like to share?
Yes—I’m starting my practice by getting the word out at the source—the moms! People have asked me why not go to the doctors first—brochures in the waiting rooms, etc. But this is a service I want women to find for themselves, through a sister, a friend, word of mouth—a resource that’s YOURS, not just another item on a checklist you’re given. I hope that women understand that I’m offering something extra that you’ll look at as a way to truly empower, educate and support yourself.
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