Fertility clinics back open with extra safety measures

Posted at 12:02 PM, May 04, 2020

The spread of COVID-19 shut down non-emergency medical procedures and surgeries across the country for more than a month. This meant many fertility clinics had to close, halting IVF and egg freezing treatments.

"I was scared, because I was already pretty much towards the end of my treatments," said Alejandra Romero.

In the middle of the pandemic, Romero started to worry if continuing with in vitro fertilization (IVF) was a good idea.

IVF is an expensive and often lengthy process. She was able to finish one part of her treatment before her fertility clinic shut down.

"It was very, very scary, but, you know, the bottom line was that I wanted to continue, even with all the scary parts of COVID, this was more important than that…than the fear," said Romero.

During Florida's shutdown, her doctor, Armando Hernandez-Rey, still performed some emergency surgeries and held telehealth appointments. Dr. Hernandez-Rey says it's a relief to be back open again and they're taking extreme precautions when it comes to his staff and patients' safety.

Taking the recommendations from the American Society of Reproductive Medicine a step further, Dr. Hernandez-Rey's fertility clinic, Conception Florida, is openings its doors but with amped-up safety measures.

The new rules start even before patients set foot in the building.

"We have a valet circle here, so patients are pulling up to the valet circle and then they're being tested,” he said. “We have the ability to do rapid testing. We do the questionnaire, we do temperature tests, and then if they pass that regular screening, they’re called in from the parking lot. So, it’s like the essential extension of their lobby is their car."

The lobby stays mostly empty and all staff are wearing personal protective equipment.

"We have implemented a very strict sterilization protocol for any rooms," said Dr. Hernandez-Rey.

The steps are giving patients some peace of mind.

"Honestly, I think it's great. It makes me feel a lot safer. These extra steps are necessary at this time," said Romero.

Romero is also appreciative that She was able to receive a COVID-19 test. Any person who tests positive cannot continue fertility treatments.

"With all the fear with everything going on, infertility is a struggle in its own, and being able to have the hope that you still have that even through all of this that has happened, it's needed," said Romero.

The continuation of her IVF treatments is giving her a renewed sense of hope during a time of uncertainty.