How was your experience with Kathleen (Kate) O'Neill at Penn Fertility Care?
I wanted to write this review before we transferred so I could share my experience without bias stemming from success or failure. I have had consultations with three REs and been in treatment with two, so I'm writing about Dr. O'Neill in relation to my general experience of the fertility industrial complex.
-willing to listen and try newer diagnostics such as ERA and DNA fragmentation testing, *if you suggest them*
-considers research brought by patients when developing a treatment plan
-will initiate phone calls (vs. portal messages) outside of official consultations for quick discussions on next steps forward
-seems to have a consultative approach and often mentions working with her Fellows and other colleagues to come to a decision on treatment.
-while I would not say she is deeply informed on the role of race in infertility treatment, I was able to bring up the subject and she did not shy away from it
-Genuinely kind and empathetic when you get bad news
CONS (with the note that I think many of these are universal problems in high-patient volume clinics)
-Not so good at communicating with her nurse. On multiple occasions I've gotten one set of medication instructions from Dr. O'Neill, a different set from the nurse, and had to ask her to double check with Dr. O'Neill.
-Can be overconfident when she's incorrect about something - e.g. you believe you are having a procedure to look at X and Y issues, but she only remembers issue Y, so you have to ask her to go dig through your records to find evidence of issue X
-Seems to err on the side of slightly conservative measures when it comes to making adjustments in treatment protocols. As mentioned above, she's open to ideas, but when left to her own devices, her style seems to favor treatments with a long track record of success
-Does not give estimated probability of success (I didn't ask for it either)
-Can be blunt and action oriented or warm and sympathetic at turns
During treatment, were you treated like a number or a human with Kathleen (Kate) O'Neill at Penn Fertility Care?
Dr. O'Neill is my second RE. My first RE was kind but distant. I didn't select Dr. O'Neill intentionally - she was the first appointment available - but I have been pleased with the rapport I have with her. I try to be a good self-advocate and spend a lot of time reading research articles so I can be informed about my own treatment. Dr. O'Neill has always been open to listening to my opinions and helping me interpret what I've read. She listens and remembers my anxieties and fears, and her clinical decisions take into account not just how they will affect me fertility-wise, but also psychologically and emotionally. A various points she's asked me if I would like to take a break. I've also noticed that the admin staff speak highly of her, which is a good sign as she is in a position of power within the clinic environment.
I should add the caveat that since Penn is a high volume clinic, the majority of my interactions are with ultrasound techs and my assigned nurse. However, based on conversations with others at high volume clinics, I still get a level of interaction that is satisfactory, as long as I am intentional and proactive about setting up consult appointments.
Describe your experience with your nurse at Penn Fertility Care. (Assigned nurse: Nicole)
Overall I love the clinic staff. They are very sweet and cheerful in what must be a challenging environment, but don't make false promises. The ultrasound techs will give you as much or as little information about what they're seeing as you request. They get you in and out really quickly for morning monitoring, but also take time to answer whatever questions you might have. The after-hours hotline is also excellent. I've had to call a few times and always respected my experiences of negative symptoms, pain, etc.
Notes specific to my nurse (nicole):
-Insanely fast portal responses. If you have not gotten a response, she's probably on vacation
-Overall friendly demeanor
-Dosing instructions not always given clearly
-Sometimes some things are lost in translation between dr. and nurse
-Very straightforward and business like. She's not mean, but I would not expect her to hold my hand (literally or metaphorically) through anything
Describe your experience with Penn Fertility Care.
-Monitoring hours are great and can happen at multiple locations on weekdays
-There is an after hours line/on-call service
-As a Penn Fertility patient, you get amazing discounts through the Pennsylvania Hospital Pharmacy. I had insurance but I was quoted a price of $1800 for all of my retrieval meds. Gene the pharmacist there is an absolute saint.
-My Penn Medicine is actually a pretty amazing portal. Very user friendly. You can look up all the notes your doctor writes about you via the visit summary feature, as well as all of your imaging from major diagnostics (e.g. HSG, surgery)
-Finance is hugely disorganized. You have to stay on top of your bill like white on rice.
-Due to high clinic volume, there is usually a 6-8 week wait to get in the cue for a consultation, retrieval, or transfer
-They do not upload your bloodwork or ultrasound results to the portal (although you can just take a photo of the patient info screen during monitoring visits)
-You are not allowed to speak to the embryologists
-Penn is a teaching hospital. Fellows tend to be more empathetic and kind because I don't think they have compassion fatigue yet, but when it comes to actual diagnostic procedures, they are clearly not as skilled and take longer.
-Closure from Christmas-New Year's means that they do not schedule anything that might need monitoring during that week.
Describe your experience with your monitoring appointments at Penn Fertility Care.
Very efficient. Never had to wait more than ten minutes and usually in and out within thirty minutes total. I like that they have soothing images of clouds, etc .on the lights! Each treatment room has its own private bathroom, which is a plus.
Describe the costs associated with your care under Kathleen (Kate) O'Neill at Penn Fertility Care.
I had insurance through Aetna (NJ) so most of my costs were covered. I did pay out of pocket for sperm freezing ($350ish/year), embryo storage ($430/yr), and mock transfers ($240)
Describe Kathleen (Kate) O'Neill's approach to eSET (elective single embryo transfer) vs. multiple embryo transfer at Penn Fertility Care.
Dr. O'Neill bases her transfer protocol for untested embryos on anticipated number of euploid embryos by age. For example, if you have three embryos and research estimates 30% aneuploid, she would transfer one embryo, then two, since we'd assume at least one of those embryos would not be viable.
What specific things went wrong at Penn Fertility Care?
- Failed to call in prescriptions to pharmacy
- Lost appointments
- Failed to order appropriate test
- Provided conflicting information