Describe your experience with Alta Bates.
Barbara was amazing- she always picks up the phone, and I trusted that when she said she'd do something she would do it. She recognized us every time, and was equally warm and caring about our setbacks and our triumphs. I can see how working in this environment might make someone jaded or indifferent, but not Barbara. I didn't have as a great a time with the billing department. I acknowledge that 1) I had no idea what I was doing; 2) dealing with insurance companies is hell. But I often had to follow up multiple times with the office's financial person and it was hard (esp at the beginning) to suss out exactly how much this adventure was going to cost us.
During treatment, were you treated like a number or a human with Christopher Herndon at Alta Bates?
I would agree with the previous patient that Dr. Herndon really takes his time with you (which is so incredibly rare in today's medical profession, and the main reason why I felt like a human at Alta). I think he's an incredibly brilliant, hard-working, and compassionate professional - he comes across as slightly wonkish, but for hand-holding I have my husband... and my therapist. With an RE, I was looking for someone who not only knows everything but is good at explaining it without any BS. Our initial appointment lasted around an hour, and follow-up consultations were just as long. We had to make a few tough decisions along the way and Dr. Herndon was very patient with our desire to gather all the facts before making/changing our minds.
In terms of bedside manner, I would disagree with the previous posters - even when the office was very busy or when Dr. Herndon had just gotten back from a procedure he took the time to ask how I was, summarize where we'd been and where we were going medically, and explain what he'd seen during the ultrasounds. At one point right before our egg retrieval I seemed to stump him by asking what a worst or best case scenario would be, and though his answer was a cautious "it depends," he called me later that afternoon on his cell phone to elaborate on his answer, which I really appreciated. As a previous poster said, he called at a regular time every day to tell me how my embryos were doing, and would often follow up on a nurse's call by calling to see if I had additional questions.
I should also mention that lovely Barbara at the front desk and Wendi (a nurse who has since left the office) were a huge part of our positive experience. Wendi was among the most no-nonsense, knowledgeable, kind, and patient people I've ever met. I felt like I could ask her anything. I really think we made a good choice by going to see Dr. Herndon.
Describe your experience with the nursing staff.
Wendi was a terrific nurse - at our last visit I called her "my rock," and I'm not prone to hyperbole. The other nurses I met there were fine, but not as good at listening or giving instruction. So I don't know the current situation there (this was all back at the end of 2016).
How was your experience with Christopher Herndon at Alta Bates?
I'm not sure what I can add to my "I was treated like a person" answer. I guess I would add that we went straight to IVF with ICSI due to MFI (low count, low motility, poor morphology). That was an easy decision that Dr. Herndon unequivocally recommended if we wanted to have our own children. We did PGS on all the embryos and froze the six that tested well. A few months later we transferred one, but it did not take. Then we dithered about whether to do another retrieval ('cause my eggs are gettin old, and we have the MFI) before another transfer. The dithering went on for a few months, but Dr. Herndon and Wendi patiently counseled us every step of the way. We were gearing up to do another transfer - with some additional measures added to help obviate the difficulties that we'd encountered with the first one - when I found out we had spontaneously conceived. Dr. Herndon monitored my early pregnancy- ordering my blood tests, doing ultrasounds to confirm implantation & heartbeat (most OB-GYNs won't see you until 8 weeks, I think?). So there were a lot of unexpected twists and turns in our fertility journey, but throughout we were treated in a straightforward, compassionate way.
What's one piece of advice would you give a prospective patient of Christopher Herndon at Alta Bates?
Know in advance that caring and compassion come in different forms. Some doctors show it through more overt hand-holding, others through a warm bedside manner - and this may be what you want (no shame in your game). But quality time, prompt information-sharing, and deep expertise were what I wanted- and what I got- here.
Describe the protocols Christopher Herndon used in your cycles at Alta Bates and their degree of success.
IVF with ICSI (due to MFI- my labs were all ok)
a month or two later, FET of one euploid embryo
negative pregnancy test
month after that... spontaneous pregnancy (they'd estimated that we had a less than 1/100 chance of conceiving naturally, which is why we went ahead with IVF. so we were pretty shocked).
Describe your experience with your monitoring appointments at Alta Bates.
I never had to wait more than 5 minutes for a monitoring appointment- no cattle line here. All monitoring appointments were scheduled for bw 8:30 and 10 in the morning so I was usually able to commute to the city and work a half-day after. It pretty much ran my life for those 2-3 weeks of stimulation/retrieval/transfer, but there wasn't really another way.
Describe the costs associated with your care under Christopher Herndon at Alta Bates.
I'd rather not say.
Describe Christopher Herndon's approach to eSET (elective single embryo transfer) vs. multiple embryo transfer at Alta Bates.
He recommended eSET. We asked why- more out of curiosity than out of a desire to transfer multiple embryos. He explained that there are more risks of complications or prematurity with multiple embryo transfer, and that current medical/ethical guidelines suggest that someone at my age without a history of miscarriage etc would only try out one embryo at a time. Again, that was in accordance w our wishes so we didn't press the issue.