How was your experience with Brian Levine at CCRM New York?
His strength is looking at you like a person. He takes into account all aspects of your life as they relate to fertility. Not just "you are infertile!" -- as I had heard at other providers. He is compassionate, but not coddling. He is direct, which I appreciate on a daily basis. Just tell me what I need to know and what the plan is! He was available for questions in the appointment, via email and via phone. (he is busy though, so it is hard to catch him at the office!) He actively listened and gave an informed, detailed medical opinion based on knowledge, science and anecdotal experiences. He doesn't rush you either. It may take a while to get an appointment with him, but know that he will spend a lot of time with you! I always feel confident in our plan when leaving the appointments with Dr Levine.
What's one piece of advice would you give a prospective patient of Brian Levine at CCRM New York?
Bring any and all questions you have! He will answer them with insight and thoughtfulness. Nothing is off limits, too personal or too medical. He is also great to just chat about life and how things are with you, so don't be afraid to be personal. He really does want to get to know you as a human being. Don't feel the need to rush the meeting because you think he needs to go! He will take his time with you unless some emergency comes up. (has only happened once in a year!) When you leave and forget to ask something, just email him. He will respond within a few days.
During treatment, were you treated like a number or a human with Brian Levine at CCRM New York?
Dr Levine is kind, compassionate and an amazing listener. He takes notes without being distracted by them. (you know what I mean when a doctor is nodding, but not actively listening!) He took the time to understand and know us as a couple. "Feeling like a human" (to me) feels like a second home; someone who understands who you are as a person and not what season you are in or what role you play. It's nice to have someone ask questions about ME and not just about my fertility issues.
Describe the protocols Brian Levine used in your cycles at CCRM New York and their degree of success.
Our first two protocols were letrozole + Ovidrel trigger followed by specifically timed intercourse. With diminished ovarian reserve due to age, this rationale was to get the best egg response and time my cycle. We also added luteal support with progesterone inserts and estrogen patches. Unfortunately, we didn't conceive. Dr Levine then suggested trying an IUI which would increase our chances slightly, but get the sperm at least closer to the egg -- if that was the conception issue. We did the same medication protocol with letrozole (great response from my body), ovidrel trigger followed by a specifically timed IUI. We used a fresh sperm sample the day of the IUI with no male factor issues. Unfortunately, this didn't lead to conception either. Dr Levine has no adjusted course which my husband and I really appreciate. He didn't push us one way or the other actually -- he simply informed us of our options. We decided to skip another IUI and move into IVF due to my age, ovarian response and success rates with IVF. We started with a month of estrogen priming followed by a cycle of menopur + cetrotide + clomid + dexamethasone + gonal f + and will trigger with lupron + novarel when the time comes for retrieval.
Describe your experience with the nursing staff.
The nursing staff is fantastic. They greet you in the lobby with a smile and genuine concern for how you are. The women you take your blood are fast. Trust me, from someone who faints, they are quick, kind and in and out! The nurses for the ultrasound are smart and efficient. The IVF nurses are also kind and answer all questions efficiently. I will urge you to stay on top of your own medical care. As wonderful as the nurses and providers are, things can get missed. Be proactive about asking questions when you either don't understand or think they gave you conflicting information. I had to inform them several times about a medication allergy which was fine; there are a lot of nurses and they share your medical information between them. I have learned to be patient while one nurse might not be up to speed.
Describe your experience with CCRM New York.
The clinic's strengths are many. The front receptionists and administrators are fantastic. They always pick up the phone, rarely put you on hold and get back to you with the information you require. They are fast to book your appointments and share details on schedules. Very accommodating. As I mentioned, the nursing staff for bloods and ultrasound are fantastic. The facility is clean and modern. Instruments and rooms are clean and up to date. Sanitization is on point. Communicating through their encrypted portal via email is great for lab results, emails, questions, general billing questions.
I would say be proactive about your health. Since at the end of the day, you've spent time, finances and emotion on this journey. Own it and communicate with the clinic often. Things can get missed due to patient volume and the time to catch up on a patient's background. The longest response times were from billing, consent forms and insurance pre-certification departments. They eventually assisted, but it was difficult to connect with them. The IVF nurses were great, but I definitely needed to stay on top of things. If something was amiss or instructions were conflicting, it would initially drive me crazy! Now, I'm much more in control and don't rely on them to reach out first. I would recommend the patient call or email them proactively.
Describe the costs associated with your care under Brian Levine at CCRM New York.
I would recommend you ask for the billing costs. They sent a complete list of all procedures, codes for insurance if you have it, and the costs associated with each item. Costs for timed intercourse cycles were low -- medications were under $5. Trigger shots were closer to $200. IUI procedures were around $1K. And IVF is around $23K including PGS testing, biopsy, ICSI and assisted hatching. Medications we shopped around for the best prices at local and other pharmacies.
Describe Brian Levine's approach to eSET (elective single embryo transfer) vs. multiple embryo transfer at CCRM New York.
We haven't gotten to the FET stage as of yet, but I believe the clinic prefers FET over fresh embryo transfers. I also believe that eSET is the preferred method, but would suggest you chat with Dr Levine about your questions and concerns.
What specific things went wrong at CCRM New York?
- Lost paperwork
- Failed to order appropriate test
- Failed to inform you of changes in protocol
- Provided conflicting information
- Failed to convey critical information
- Failed to consider drug intolerance
Describe the specific things that went wrong at CCRM New York.
Just be proactive about asking questions. Initially, we relied on them to notice drug allergies or prescription changes, but quickly realized we would need to remind them every single time. Which is fine! Now that we take that approach, things are missed, yes, but now we are in control. If meds aren't called in, reach out to CCRM. If they sent the wrong dose, call CCRM. If you get conflicting instructions, reach out to them. It can all be solved quickly!