Understanding the Roles of OB/GYNs and Certified Nurse-Midwives in Women’s Healthcare

At Covington Women’s Health Specialists, we’re excited to highlight the growth that many of our longstanding patients have observed. With a dynamic team consisting of six OB/GYN doctors, seven Certified Nurse-Midwives, and three Women’s Health Nurse Practitioners, we strive daily to deliver personalized, patient-centered care.

We’re thrilled to introduce Rosalie Plofchan, CNM, to our dynamic team. Rosalie is excited to share insights on a topic we often receive questions about: the differences between OB/GYN doctors and Certified Nurse-Midwives (CNMs). Although both play crucial roles in our specialty, their education and credentials differ. Here’s Rosalie insights on these important distinctions.

OB/GYN Doctors Healthcare Services 

OB/GYN doctors undergo extensive training in medical illnesses and surgery. With four years of medical school and four years of residency, our Medical Doctors (MD) or Doctors of Osteopathy (DO) specialize in obstetrics and gynecology. Board-certified in this specialty, their training equips them with expertise to manage routine and high-risk pregnancies, perform surgical procedures related to the female reproductive system, and diagnose and treat various gynecological conditions and non-pregnancy related medical illnesses. Our OB/GYNs bring a wealth of specialized medical knowledge and surgical expertise to the team. They are skilled to handle complex pregnancies, high-risk deliveries, and a myriad of gynecological conditions.

In situations requiring intervention or advanced medical care, OB/GYNs play an indispensable role. Their ability to navigate intricate surgeries, manage complications, and provide a range of treatment options ensures that patients receive the highest level of care, especially in critical situations.

Certified Nurse-Midwives (CNMs) Healthcare Services

Certified Nurse-Midwives (CNMs) are registered nurses who pursue advanced training and hold master’s or doctoral degrees in nursing. Completing two to four years of graduate education, they are certified by the American Midwifery Certification Board and licensed by the state to practice. Emphasizing holistic, patient-centered care, CNMs focus on promoting natural childbirth, providing education, and supporting women throughout the childbirth process. They are trained to recognize and manage complications during pregnancy and childbirth. CNMs offer prenatal care, attend births, and provide postpartum care for low-risk women. Additionally, they deliver routine gynecologic care and support women with health maintenance and regular testing outside of pregnancy. Our CNMs collaborate with our physicians to care for medium to high-risk pregnancies.

The Harmony of CNMs and OB/GYNs

The diversity of care we offer, with both CNMs and OB/GYNs, is one of the beautiful aspects of our practice. Women have different needs, preferences, and circumstances, and having a range of healthcare providers ensures that those needs are met. While some women may prefer the personalized, low-intervention approach of midwifery, others may require the specialized care and expertise of an OB/GYN due to medical conditions or other factors. The key lies in recognizing that each provider has a valuable role to play in women’s healthcare.

Our dedicated team of healthcare providers is ready to support you throughout your pregnancy, delivery, and postpartum journey, addressing any questions or concerns you may have along the way. Schedule your appointment online or give us a call at 770-385-8954.

Partnering with Excellence: Celebrating Piedmont Newton Hospital’s Accomplishments

At Covington Women’s Health Specialists, we take pride in our affiliation with Piedmont Newton Hospital, a healthcare institution that consistently demonstrates excellence in women’s services. Here are just a few reasons why we choose Piedmont Newton as our trusted partner:

  1. Recognized Excellence: For the past three years, the Atlanta Journal Constitution has honored a Piedmont Newton Women’s Services Nurse as the Nurse of the Year for Atlanta metro area. This prestigious recognition reflects the hospital’s commitment to exceptional patient care and nursing excellence.
  1. Cutting-Edge Surgical Techniques: Our gynecologists are able to be at the forefront of surgical innovation, performing state-of-the-art robotic surgeries with precision and expertise with the equipment provided by Piedmont Newton Hospital. These minimally invasive procedures offer patients less pain, faster recovery, and improved outcomes.
  1. Advanced Pain Management: Piedmont Newton prioritizes patient comfort and recovery by offering advanced pain management techniques. Their anesthesiologists and anesthetists administer nerve blocks to reduce postoperative and postpartum pain, minimizing the need for narcotic medications and enhancing the overall patient experience.

We are committed to providing our patients with the highest quality of care, which is why we partner with Piedmont Newton Hospital. Together, we strive to ensure that every patient receives compassionate, comprehensive, and cutting-edge healthcare services.

Piedmont Newton’s Concert for a Cause 2024: Celebrating Community and Care

Covington Women’s Health Specialists proudly served as a platinum sponsor for the Piedmont Newton’s Concert for a Cause 2024 held on Saturday, April 20, 2024. The event showcased an outdoor concert at Legion Field featuring the performance of Yacht Rock Schooner and local favorite Chris, Jon, and Scott

All proceeds from this year’s Concert for a Cause contributed to Piedmont Newton’s efforts to achieve a Level III NICU designation. Funds were allocated for essential equipment including ventilators, incubators, phototherapy lights, and a neonatal transporter, ensuring the provision of critical care for fragile newborns. Interested in donating? Click here for instructions on how to give

Representatives from Covington Women’s Health Specialists took the stage to express gratitude for the community’s support and share the practice’s commitment to women’s health and wellness. Our very own Jennifer Walker, CNM shared with the crowd how Piedmont Newton’s NICU helped her family. 

Listen to Jennifer’s endearing speech:

We extend our heartfelt appreciation to all who attended and supported this meaningful event. Together, we’re making a difference in the lives of families in our community. 

Check out the pictures from the event to see the joy and camaraderie shared by all!

Covington Women’s Health Specialists Marks 20 Years of Exceptional Women’s Healthcare

In 2004, Covington Women’s Health Specialists was born out of Dr. Cathy T. Larrimore’s vision to create a unique and supportive healthcare environment for women. After serving nearly 12 years in the naval service and having her own children, Dr. Larrimore sought a change, wanting to spend more time with her three daughters and create a practice aligned with her values.

Her quest for this ideal location led her to Covington, GA, a charming town that resonated with her suburban childhood memories. Coincidentally, a former Navy midwife shared the same vision and also decided to move to Georgia. Both were hired at what is now Piedmont Newton Hospital, setting the foundation for the practice.

As the years passed, Dr. Larrimore saw an opportunity to integrate midwifery into an OB GYN practice. She officially opened Covington Women’s Health Specialists in 2004. To distinguish the practice, she introduced group prenatal care following the Centering Pregnancy model, fostering a sense of community and support among expectant mothers (temporarily paused due to COVID).

Dr. Larrimore’s commitment to education became evident as she began teaching third-year medical students aspiring to become midwives, nurse practitioners, and ultrasonographers. Her advice to them reflects the highs and lows of the medical profession, emphasizing strength during challenging moments.

While the core principles of gynecology remain steadfast, Covington Women’s Health Specialists has continuously evolved, staying abreast of current advancements. Dr. Larrimore’s focus on minimally invasive surgery, fibroid treatment, menopausal medicine, and infertility has propelled the practice forward.

Dr. Jessie L. Bender Earns Focused Practice Designation in Minimally Invasive Gynecologic Surgery

At Covington Women’s Health Specialists, we are excited to announce that Dr. Jessie L. Bender has achieved a significant milestone in her career: the prestigious Focused Practice Designation in Minimally Invasive Gynecologic Surgery by the American Board of Obstetrics and Gynecology. This achievement highlights our practice’s ongoing dedication to delivering top-notch obstetrics and gynecology services.

The American Board of Obstetrics and Gynecology (ABOG) developed this esteemed recognition to establish standards and assessments for minimally invasive gynecologic surgery within our field. It acknowledges the surgical proficiency of physicians who have honed their skills in treating gynecological issues through minimally invasive techniques. Moreover, this recognition ensures that physicians stay up-to-date with relevant professional development.

“At Covington Women’s Health Specialists, we are deeply committed to providing inclusive and exceptional care to our patients,” says Dr. Bender. “This recognition reflects our unwavering dedication. It’s an honor to be recognized by the American Board of Obstetrics and Gynecology and to collaborate with esteemed professionals in our field.”

Since joining Covington Women’s Health Specialist in 2014, Dr. Bender has been an invaluable asset to the community, delivering high-quality, innovative care right here at home. Learn more about Dr. Bender here, a Fellow of the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists and a Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine.  
To schedule an appointment with Dr. Bender or any of our skilled medical professionals at Covington Women’s Health Specialists, call 770-385-8954 or visit CovingtonWomensHealth.com.

Safe and Recommended Vaccinations During Pregnancy

Vaccines are important for protecting you against serious illness at every stage of life. When you’re pregnant, having this protection is especially important because physiological and immunological changes are taking place in your body, and these changes can increase your risk of infections and their severity.

In addition to safeguarding pregnant women from severe illness, the antibodies produced by the mother’s body can pass across the placenta, offering the baby protection from illnesses after birth. Unlike some illnesses for which babies do not begin receiving vaccinations until two months of life, the antibodies acquired from the mother provide immediate defense. Starting life with protection against common and severe illnesses promotes a baby’s health and shields them during the first two to six months, before their own vaccinations are complete.

Fortunately, the following vaccinations can protect you and your growing baby against contagious illnesses when you’re most vulnerable. At Covington Women’s Health Specialists, we recommend pregnant patients receive the following vaccines and break down the reasoning for each one.

Whooping Cough

Whooping cough (also known as pertussis) is an extremely contagious respiratory tract infection. It gets its name from the high-pitched inhalation that follows a severe hacking cough. This dry, irritating cough can become so intense that it causes vomiting or apneas (periodic interruptions in breathing). While the illness can be severe for babies and young children, adults often experience a mild form and may not even be aware that they are ill, unknowingly spreading the virus. As a result, newborns can be unintentionally exposed.

Fortunately, pregnant women can receive the TDAP vaccination for whooping cough— protecting themselves and their unborn babies. We recommend you receive the vaccine between 27 and 36 weeks gestation of each pregnancy. This time frame ensures that the antibodies passed along to your baby will be at the highest concentration at the time of birth.

Flu

The flu vaccination is recommended by the CDC for everyone over the age of six months. Flu complications can be serious for anyone, but are particularly dangerous for pregnant women and newborns. With the systemic changes that come with pregnancy, and your baby’s underdeveloped immune system, the flu virus can be life-threatening for you both.

The good news is that your risk of catching the flu (or developing a severe case if you do get it) is much lower when you get your flu shot. If you’re pregnant during flu season (typically October through May), you can get vaccinated during any trimester. We recommend receiving your shot as soon as it becomes available so you have immunity for the full flu season.

Respiratory Syncytial Virus (RSV)

RSV is a contagious virus that causes lower respiratory tract or lung infections. Because RSV causes thousands of hospitalizations of young children each year, medical experts have been working hard to develop an effective vaccine.

Recently, the Pfizer RSV vaccine has been approved by the FDA for patients who are between 32 and 36 weeks’ pregnant during RSV season, which runs from September through January. Being vaccinated during this timeframe can protect your baby against severe infection caused by RSV after birth until up to six months of life. The vaccine is offered at the local health department.

COVID-19

If you’re pregnant and not up-to-date on your COVID-19 vaccine or boosters, make a point to become so. Women who are pregnant or were pregnant recently are more likely to become seriously ill from the virus, but getting the updated vaccine reduces risks of complications for both you and your baby.

The vaccine is safe during pregnancy, with data showing no indications of increased risk of complications. Vaccination and booster recommendations vary based on the time since your last dose and the first vaccine you received, so talk to your provider during your next prenatal care visit if you’re unsure whether or not you are fully protected. The vaccine, along with boosters, is offered at the local health department.

Contact Your Provider for Questions About Vaccinations During Pregnancy

There’s a lot to think about when you’re expecting, and vaccinations are only part of routine prenatal health care, which is why we’ve compiled a pregnancy guide to give you a thorough overview in one convenient location. And with our top-notch prenatal care, you can rest assured both you and your baby are in the best of hands throughout your pregnancy. Request your prenatal appointment online or by calling our office at (770) 385-8954 to discuss and get personalized guidance for your health journey.

Village Behind the Visit: Spotlighting the Team Behind Your Care

As the saying goes: “it takes a village.” At Covington Women’s Health Specialists, there’s a whole village of amazing people who work behind the scenes to support our patients and each visit to our practice.

Our newest nurse practitioner Rachel Manciagli learned that first-hand in her first ever OB-GYN position here at our practice. Since starting with us, Rachel has learned a lot about how a gynecology office operates:

“As I began meeting all the wonderful ladies who work at Covington Women’s Health Specialists, I started to think about how many people are needed to make sure each patient visit is successful. Although you may associate the office with the provider you see when you visit, many people contribute to your medical care.”

In celebration of our wonderful staff, Rachel is here to introduce all of the many amazing people who help make each and every visit to Covington Women’s Health Specialists possible!

As you step into our practice for your appointment, you’ll be warmly greeted by our Medical Secretaries Sharon, Amanda, Marli, Cecilia, Tawona, Taylor and Stacy, all eagerly anticipating your visit. They will let the staff know when you arrive and help you schedule your next appointment when you leave.

The Medical Records department  of Covington Women's Health

While you’re checking in, you might just get a glimpse of our Medical Records employee, Gracie! She helps us document clinical information on our new patients and keep patient charts updated. This allows your providers to have all the information needed to provide exceptional care. Though she often works behind the scenes, Gracie is important to your visit, and she’s always happy to help and welcome new patients! 

Medical assistants of Covington Women's Health

Next, you’ll head on to meet with one of our wonderful Medical Assistants. They’ll collect your vital signs, document information about your visit, and give a hand to the providers when needed. Our medical assistants work closely with our doctors, nurse practitioners, and midwives to help start your visit off smoothly!

Nurse practitioners of Covington Women's Health
Nurse practitioners of Covington Women's Health

Once you’ve seen a medical assistant for your initial check, you’re going to head back for your appointment. Here, you’ll likely meet with one of our wonderful Nurse Practitioners: Kerry G. Dewberry, LaPrecious Sanders, or Rachel Manciagli! Our nurse practitioners spend their time in the office seeing routine prenatal patients, giving GYN annual exams, and performing minor in-office procedures.

Midwives of Covington Women's Health

Depending on your reason for visiting, you may also get a chance to see one of our wonderful midwives when you head back. Our midwives Brenda Barlowe, Tamsin Lewis, Kristina Carmain, Jennifer Walker, Rosalie Plofchan, and Katey Burroughs primarily work in the hospital both delivering babies and seeing postpartum patients. They also work in the office providing prenatal care, and occasionally see GYN patients for their annual exams or routine visits. 

Doctors of Covington Women's Health

Once you’ve seen a nurse or midwife, you get to meet with one of our incredible physicians: Dr. Cathy T. Larrimore, Dr. Jessie Bender, Dr. Sherley C. Samuels, Dr. Michelle D. White, Dr. Meridith Farrow, and Dr. Meredith Delp. Our doctors provide both obstetrical care to our pregnant patients and gynecological care throughout a patient’s lifetime. They see patients for wellness visits, offer prenatal care, and perform minor procedures in the office, as well as deliver babies and perform surgeries in the hospital.

Medical scribes of Covington Women's Health

While you meet with one of our physicians, you may get a chance to meet our Medical Scribe, Mykela Bolar! Her job is to help our doctors with efficiency so they can focus on the patients. She may join a doctor in the exam room and write notes about the visit so that we have a record to look back on when needed.

Phlebotomists of Covington Women's Health

After you see the doctor, you may be referred to further testing in the office. At times, our providers will order lab work to obtain more information about your help. Our amazing phlebotomists Cynthia and Jessica are experts at drawing blood, and they work here in our office so they can get it done quickly!

Sonographers of Covington Women's Health

You may also be referred to an ultrasound, provided by our wonderful Ultrasound Technicians Stephanie or Audra. Our technicians are trained to perform pelvic ultrasounds on both our pregnant and non-pregnant patients. This exam lets us take a look inside the body so that we can make a plan of action for you.

Surgery scheduling of Covington Women's Health

In some cases, you may end up needing to schedule out-of-office procedures. When this happens, our Surgery Schedulers Yvette and Courtney work with patients and providers to coordinate them. Whether it’s time to schedule your delivery during pregnancy or you need a gynecological procedure, our team will work with you to get you the care you need!

Surgical assistants of Covington Women's Health

You’re most likely to get to meet Ashley Spears and Jennifer Gilmore — our two wonderful Surgical Assistants — if you have a procedure out-of-office. They assist in these surgeries, such as C-sections or hysterectomies, to provide aid to the physicians. However, you may occasionally see them in the office as well, helping to ensure our visits are running smoothly.

The billing department at Covington Women's Health

Once your appointment is almost done, it’s time to head out! First, meet with our wonderful Billing Team: Morgan, Natalie, Christina, and Tammy. Our staff in the billing department work closely with your insurance company to help you get your visits paid for.

Registered nurses of Covington Women's Health

Once any test results are in, you’re likely to meet one of our Registered Nurses: Alana, Christine, Beth, Sherry, and Kanedrus. After our providers review patient results, it’s our registered nurses who call you to discuss your results and provide education. They also help coordinate referrals and order supplies to help in your care.

We hope you’ve enjoyed learning more about all of the wonderful women who work to help provide our patients with excellent care! Check out our team page to learn more about some of these amazing women, and to experience their wonderful care first-hand, call us at 770-385-8954 or request an appointment online!

Provider Spotlight: Kristina Carmain

At Covington Women’s Health Specialists, we believe in providing compassionate care to every patient who walks through our doors. We are thrilled to shine the spotlight on Kristina Carmain, a midwife for our practice. Get to know Kristina in the Q & A below to learn about her background, expertise, and the personal touches she brings to our practice. 

What is your role at Covington Women’s Health Specialists? 

I’m a Certified Nurse Midwife and Women’s Health Nurse Practitioner here at Covington Women’s Health Specialists.

How did you get connected with Covington Women’s Health Specialists and how long have you worked with the practice? 

Since 2015, I’ve been practicing as a Certified Nurse Midwife (CNM) and Women’s Health Nurse Practitioner (WHNP). I began my career at New Beginnings Comprehensive Women’s Healthcare, dedicating six solid years to the field. Excitingly, I joined the fantastic team at Covington Women’s Health Specialists in June 2022. The move was a thrill for me since it’s a larger practice, allowing me to care for even more amazing patients!

Why did you choose to work in the field of obstetric/gynecologic medicine?

I just love being in women’s health because it’s not just about treating symptoms, it’s about building connections. I get to be there for my patients from their teen years to postmenopause, guiding them through all the ups and downs. This long-term bond lets me give the best, evidence-based care at every stage of a woman’s life!

What are the key challenges of this field of medicine?

Our challenges start with healthcare literacy and education. Patients rely on “Dr. Google” and “Nurse Tik Tok” for their education and there seems to be increased mistrust in healthcare practitioners.  I’m working to change that by providing the best evidence-based practice to all our patients. Making my patients feel heard, and addressing their concerns in a timely manner is incredibly important to me.

What are unique and/or special skills you have because of your work at Covington Women’s Health Specialists?

Throughout my experiences as a Midwife, I gained valuable skills and expertise in performing bedside ultrasounds for pregnancy confirmations and IUD placements. I believe these are crucial skills for a Certified Midwife and Nurse Practitioner.

What’s the most rewarding part about work at Covington Women’s Health Specialists?

I love our patients.  It’s so rewarding to be able to care for our patients throughout their lives, meeting them as adolescents and supporting them through their adult years. We celebrate their pregnancies together, we get to deliver their babies, and we continue caring for them well beyond their pregnancy journey.

What’s one thing that has surprised you about being at Covington Women’s Health Specialists?

I’ve always been impressed by how hard all our providers work to provide evidence-based practice care. We work together to achieve the best outcomes for our patients so we can accomplish our overarching goals: healthy women and healthy babies.

Is there a specific patient or work experience that left a lasting impact on you? If so, explain how and why.

Absolutely. I had a patient that went into labor as a preterm rupture and ended up having cord prolapse. Due to the relationship I built with that patient during that time, I still get updates on how she and her baby are doing, even two years later. Those updates really brighten my day.

How do you perceive the existing challenges in the current patient information culture, and what strategies do you envision employing to effectively address these challenges?

I plan on trying to get my doctorate of nursing practice in the future as I want to be able to provide evidence-based practice care and hopefully develop educational tools to the community, patients, and nursing/hospital staff about preeclampsia and postpartum depression and anxiety. In my experience we are seeing more patients with preeclampsia and postpartum depression and anxiety. Our population overall is sicker and we need better ways to reach our patient population to provide much needed education.

Tell us about yourself. Family? Hobbies? What do you enjoy doing outside the office?

I am an aunt to three nieces and two nephews, with a new one on the way. Despite living away from me, I try to stay as involved as I can.

My sisters and I try to take annual Disney trips with the kids so we can all be together, and while those are some of my favorite trips, I just love to travel in general. My goal over the next several years is to go to Europe. I’m a lover of Italian renaissance art and architecture as well as Roman, Greek, and Egyptian classical art and history.

In my free time, I also like to read and cook.

Covington Women’s Health Specialists Awarded Best of Newton 2024

We are thrilled to share the exciting news that Covington Women’s Health Specialists has once again been recognized as the Best Obstetrics & Gynecology in the 2024 Best of Newton Award, marking our eighth consecutive win!

Each year, the residents of Newton County have the chance to nominate and vote for their favorite local businesses, and we’re honored to have your support. From the best jewelry store to the finest grocery store and, of course, the top gynecology office — your votes have spoken!

“Our practice is​ dedicated to maintaining the highest standards of care,” Dr. Cathy T. Larrimore said. “Our village behind every​ patient visit strives to provide excellence in our services.”

Heartfelt gratitude to everyone who cast their votes for Covington Women’s Health Specialists. Serving you and our community is a privilege we hold dear!

Midwifery Musings: Navigating the Initial Prenatal Exam

Jennifer Walker, CNM is back offering insights from the unique perspective of one of our midwives and giving you a look behind the scenes here at Covington Women’s Health Specialists in our next Midwifery Musings blog. 

As your trusted guides on the exciting journey of pregnancy, we are providing a detailed exploration of the Initial Prenatal Exam—a crucial milestone in your path to motherhood. Missed our previous post? Learn all about the Pregnancy Confirmation Appointment here.

What to Expect

Scheduled approximately 2 weeks after confirming your pregnancy, this crucial appointment sets the stage for comprehensive care, laying the foundation for a healthy and well-monitored pregnancy. It also establishes a strong connection between the patient and their healthcare team, fostering a supportive and informed care environment. Here’s an overview of what typically happens:

Ultrasound

Tailored to your gestational age, an early ultrasound is recommended for accurate due date confirmation, providing an initial glimpse of your little one.

Lab Work

A vital component of your first visit involves an array of tests assessing your health and potential risks for both you and your baby. This includes blood type, anemia check, immunity to Rubella, and screenings for HIV, Hepatitis B, Syphilis, and more. Our caring team is here to guide you through these essential evaluations.

Special Considerations for Rh-Negative Blood Type:

If your blood type is Rh-negative, we’re vigilant about addressing potential risks associated with Rh disease. Our team will conduct Rh factor testing and, if needed, administer Rhogam—a preventive measure that ensures the well-being of both you and your baby.

Elective Genetic Testing:

Delving into the realm of prenatal genetic testing, we offer various screening options tailored to your preferences and health history. From the Sequential Integrated Screen with Nuchal Translucency Ultrasounds to AFP 4 (Quad screenings), Cell-Free Fetal DNA, or Spinal Muscular Atrophy/Fragile X, our comprehensive approach aims to provide you with valuable insights into your baby’s well-being.

Important Note on Screening Tests:

While these screening tests offer valuable risk assessments, it’s crucial to understand that they are not diagnostic tests. A normal result does not guarantee a complication-free birth, and anomalies can sometimes be missed. Our dedicated team is here to navigate this information with you, offering support and guidance throughout.

Your Journey Ahead:

Following the Initial Prenatal Exam, we look forward to welcoming you back for your next prenatal appointment in approximately 4 weeks. Should you encounter any obstetric emergencies before 20 weeks of gestation, our guidance is to seek evaluation at the ER. However, please remember that we are always accessible via MyChart messaging or phone to address any questions or concerns you may have.

As your partners in this remarkable journey, we’re honored to provide the compassionate care and expertise you deserve.  Stay tuned for more Midwifery Musings as we navigate the beautiful complexities of pregnancy together. To set up an appointment with one of our specialists, call 770-385-8954 or request an appointment online.