How was your experience with Robert Weiss at Fertility Centers of New England?
Dr. Weiss is not an unfriendly person; I think he quite possibly could be a nice guy to know. Unfortunately, his mannerisms in the office did not convey confidence or give us the impression that he was "in our corner". In the grand scheme of infertility cases, my husband and I are quite straightforward. However, we did not appreciate being automatically put onto a standard protocol without special consideration for our needs and/or health conditions. If I was not acutely aware of my own health and fertility concepts , we might have been talked into the completely wrong choice. In the end, I truly believe that had another doctor not stepped in to assist our case, we may have repeated this unsuccessful transfer protocol over and over. There is a benefit to having a gigantic clinic, and perhaps some find the mechanics and timing of that helpful. However, this really strained the relationship between us and Dr. Weiss, and I would not recommend this additional stress to anyone already going through infertility.
What's one piece of advice would you give a prospective patient of Robert Weiss at Fertility Centers of New England?
You are going to have to advocate for yourself HARD. You have to constantly remind the doctor of everything about you, all the time. If you are not comfortable with that, or do not know this process very well, we would advise seeking alternate care.
During treatment, were you treated like a number or a human with Robert Weiss at Fertility Centers of New England?
I believe that Dr. Weiss, like many physicians, does not mean harm toward his patients. However, his bedside manner really leaves something to be desired, and the way he and the other doctors & staff conduct business in this practice is shameful. You sit among a huge group of persons waiting in a huge room, and sign yourself in. You wait tremendous amounts of time, and are treated like farm animals being milked. The one-on-one consults with Dr. Weiss feel no different, and I would say worse. I had to constantly remind him of my conditions, history and path forward every single time we sat together. How many times should you need to remind your doctor that you cannot take birth control due to a blood clotting disorder? Your health and well-being should be their top priority, followed second by their drive to get you to your goals of starting or growing your family. He quite literally remembers nothing about you from one visit to the next, and I am not sure he is aware how hurtful, scary and devastating that is to a couple going through this already horrible experience.
Describe the protocols Robert Weiss used in your cycles at Fertility Centers of New England and their degree of success.
In summary, we did a total of 2 egg retrieval cycles, 2 transfer cycles, and many halted processes in between. We began this journey knowing of our medical history with male factor infertility. This knowledge in itself should have prepped the clinic to request back-up cryopreserved sperm in the event anything happened on the physical day of retrieval (i.e. – if there was any issue getting live sperm on the day of egg retrieval). This was not done and cost us a huge portion of time and lots of insurance hurdles to go through. My husband’s medication halted sperm production during the retrieval, and our oocytes were frozen on day of retrieval, which was not something we discussed prior to surgery. I signed consent forms immediately after anesthesia, and while I would have chosen the same thing in another situation, this lack of planning and harried accommodations infuriated us. My husband eventually created multiple back-up vials of sperm and insisted about them being frozen and stored at the clinic. Due to insurance restrictions, we were now forced to use the frozen oocytes to attempt embryo creation, despite the acknowledgement that success rates would be considerably lower. Nothing can describe the heartbreak when FCNE informed us that none of the oocytes survived the thaw, and we would have to undergo a second retrieval process. Months later, due to travel and other conflicts, we had a second egg retrieval done, and the result of this was 5 total embryos using a fresh semen sample produced the day of retrieval. Under the perceived time pressure that many of us feel undergoing infertility, we elected to conduct a fresh transfer cycle with one of the embryos during the same cycle as the retrieval. It was clear my uterus and body were not ideally prepared for this transfer and quite stressed. Needless to say, the transfer of the fresh embryo did not work, and we were able to freeze down 2 other embryos. We were stressed, hopeless and exhausted, and elected to take a couple months off to let my mind and body recover. Upon return, we commenced an estrogen-supported cycle to attempt a transfer. The Estrogen suppressed ovulation, extended my normal 28-day cycles to greater than 46 days, and the endometrial lining never reached the desired thickness despite countless days of monitoring. Frustrated with Dr. Weiss for trying to push this cycle to success when it clearly was not getting there, I asked for medication to induce a period or ‘breakthrough’ bleed (as without ovulation, it was unsure when my body would decide to menstruate). We therefore started a new ‘cycle’ with plenty of added surprises; upon my first blood & ultrasound monitoring, it was clear that the follicle from my last cycle was still maturing in the ovary, and was now nearly ready to ovulate. This is when a second physician at FCNE took a look at my file (by chance? by intervention???) and determined that we should try a ‘natural’ cycle – we would monitor ovulation and do the transfer immediately after. Yes, this involves a lot of monitoring, but it is almost as natural as you can go. No estrogen, just progesterone support to promote the pregnancy. This was our successful cycle. Ten days post-transfer we had a blazing positive pregnancy test. Had we not been allowed to do a natural cycle for transfer, we may have never got here.
Describe your experience with the nursing staff.
I think that because we did not have specific nurses or nursing staff assigned to us, it was very 'hit or miss' if we had good care from the team on a day to day. I will say that the 'lead nurse' or however she was referred to was perhaps the least compassionate human I have ever met, and it was outrageous to me that she was allowed to speak to patients as she did. We limited our discussion with her to only what was absolutely necessary. Some of the nurses were very sweet, some were also very rude. It just depended.
Describe your experience with Fertility Centers of New England.
I supposed, like so many things in life, it is a choice you should make based upon your own mental state and stance. If achieving a pregnancy, despite hurdles and feeling like farm cattle, is your goal, this might be perfectly adequate. They have the flexibility, numbers and success rates that suggest it is a worthy clinic. However, I would postulate that the majority of women & couples are in an infertility situation are already mentally and emotionally fragile, and this additional stress provided by this type of clinic seems like the wrong choice for many.
Strengths of the clinic: locations, early AM hours for bloodwork and monitoring, ability to do procedures at all times/days due to many physicians, numbers, money.
Weaknesses: No personal treatment, you are a number, disorganized and unfriendly patient coordination, slow insurance processing team, inconsistency in interpretation of monitoring results from site-to-site, too many physicians involved to have personal touch, completely inflexible and stubborn in their ways - " the protocol is the protocol, the procedure is the procedure".
Describe your experience with your monitoring appointments at Fertility Centers of New England.
Monitoring was very much a 'cattle-call' process. So many persons in a waiting room where you checked yourself in. I think that having the hours early in the AM was convenenient for most, but it was not as convenient as coming in when it made sense for you.
Describe the costs associated with your care under Robert Weiss at Fertility Centers of New England.
Thankfully we live in a state with mandated coverage, and our insurance was excellent. We paid for storage of embryos and semen samples, which was in the $100s, but otherwise we only paid our co-pays for cycles and medications.
Describe Robert Weiss's approach to eSET (elective single embryo transfer) vs. multiple embryo transfer at Fertility Centers of New England.
Single transfer is mandated here, and I support that. As a high-risk patient, I would not have been comfortable with transferring multiple embryos.
What specific things went wrong at Fertility Centers of New England?
- Failed to call in prescriptions to pharmacy
- Failed to call with results
- Provided conflicting information
- Failed to convey critical information
- Failed to consider drug intolerance
- Lost or damaged samples
- Canceled a cycle due to clinic error
Describe the specific things that went wrong at Fertility Centers of New England.
Some things that felt like insults at the end of the day:
* When we finally got a positive pregnancy test, a random nurse who I never had met called to tell me. I could not believe our own doctor did not call.
* Due to male factor infertility, we should have had frozen sperm samples prepared ahead of any egg retrieval cycle, or at least been asked about it. We were not
* We constantly had to remind them where we lived, and therefore would prefer to be monitored at the clinic near our home
* Insurance procedures and delays were never explained. I understand that department's role is critical and high-volume, but getting zero information about anything which caused months and months of delay was so frustrating
* The patient care coordinator lead was NEVER in the office and we could not reach her by phone. It was so sad and frustrating
* Our oocytes were destroyed due to hurried procedure to freeze down when we did not have adequate sperm; this resulted in needing to go though multiple retrieval cycles unnecessarily
* Prescriptions were sent to pharmacies which did not take our insurance/were out of network, despite us having asked they be sent to places with known coverage
* There are standard protocols which you are put onto without any option to discuss or understand alternatives.