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 in our next Midwifery Musings blog and giving you a look behind the scenes here at Covington Women’s Health Specialists.

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.

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.

Prepare for Parenthood with Prenatal Breastfeeding Classes

Breastfeeding has numerous benefits for both mom and baby. That’s why we are excited to announce the Piedmont Newton Lactation Department will now present Prenatal Breastfeeding Classes!

These classes will be held in the Basement Auditorium at 4181 Hospital Drive, Covington, GA 30014, from 6:00 pm to 8:00 pm on the following dates:

  • January 3, 2024
  • February 7, 2024
  • March 6, 2024

The cost is $10 per person. Secure your spot by calling or texting 470-522-3629 to register.

We look forward to supporting you in this exciting chapter of your life.

Georgia Department of Health Policy Change to Enhance the Standard of Care for Pregnant Patients

As of July 2023, Senate Bill 46 has been enacted, revising the STD testing requirements for pregnant people. This legislation mandates healthcare providers to conduct HIV and syphilis testing at three critical junctures during pregnancy: the first prenatal visit, between 28-32 weeks gestation, and crucially, at the time of delivery.

This proactive approach aims to further safeguard the health and well-being of both mother and child. By identifying and addressing any potential infections promptly, we can work for the best possible outcomes for all involved.

Our team is fully prepared and committed to implementing these new testing protocols in your prenatal care journey. Should you have any questions or require further information, please do not hesitate to reach out to our office.

We greatly appreciate your trust in us as your healthcare provider, and we look forward to continuing to provide you with the highest standard of care.

If you have any questions or concerns, please don’t hesitate to give us a call at 770-385-8954.

HIV and Conception

Living HIV positive can change your life in many ways, but with proper management, leading a healthy life is entirely possible. In fact, having HIV doesn’t even prevent you from having children, though there are some considerations to keep in mind.

One crucial aspect that demands attention is the intersection of HIV and conception. Here’s what you should know about navigating the path to parenthood while living with HIV.

How HIV Affects the Reproductive System

Research shows that HIV can produce abnormalities in a woman’s reproductive system, including in the cells and tissues of their fallopian tubes, uterus, and cervix.  Absence of menstrual periods also appears to be higher in women who are HIV positive. Because conception relies on the ovaries’ ability to release an egg for fertilization, missing periods can be a barrier to becoming pregnant. HIV can also affect male infertility, including semen volume, sperm motility, concentration, and morphology.

Since HIV-positive individuals may experience difficulties getting pregnant through traditional intercourse, fertility treatments such as intrauterine insemination (IUI) and in vitro fertilization (IVF) may be options to consider. Treatments may also involve sperm washing to reduce HIV levels prior to insemination.

What to Expect When You’re Pregnant with HIV

People who are HIV positive and pregnant will have their viral load and CD4 counts tested throughout their pregnancy. A high viral load and low CD4 count increases your risk of becoming sick and passing HIV to your baby. It’s therefore critical that you continue to take your HIV medicine exactly as your provider directs you.

HIV can also be passed to a baby during and after pregnancy through the placenta, a broken amniotic sac, or by breastfeeding. Our team can discuss prevention strategies you can take to significantly reduce the risk of passing the virus to your baby, which may include:

  • Taking HIV drugs to keep your viral load low
  • Delivering via C-section (if your HIV levels are high) to reduce the risk of transmission during birth
  • Avoiding breastfeeding
  • Administering anti-HIV drugs to your baby after birth

With these guidelines, the risk of passing HIV to a baby drops to just one percent.

Plan Ahead for Pregnancy

Research shows the risk for passing along HIV is lowest when you start HIV treatment before pregnancy or as early as possible while pregnant. If you know you are HIV positive, it’s therefore a good idea to discuss plans to become pregnant with your provider before trying to conceive. During this appointment, we may also cover other details, including how medications could affect your baby, whether any changes to your treatment regimen may be needed, and what to do if pregnancy symptoms like nausea and vomiting make it difficult to continue taking medication.

Until directed otherwise by your doctor, the main thing to know is that it’s critical that you never stop taking your HIV medication.

Here at Covington Women’s Health Specialists, our doctors are committed to providing the best level of prenatal care for all patients who are expecting or planning to become pregnant. To set up an appointment with one of our specialists, call 770-385-8954 or request an appointment online.

Holiday Hours For Covington Women’s Health Specialists

It might be the most wonderful time of the year, but between kids coming home for winter break and making holiday travel plans, it’s also the busiest time of the year. At Covington Women’s Health Specialists, we’re here to help you navigate your busy schedule with ease.

Below, you’ll find our holiday hours for November, December, and January.

November:

  • Wednesday, November 22: 8AM-12PM
  • Thursday, November 23: CLOSED
  • Friday, November 24: CLOSED

December:

  • Friday, December 22: CLOSED
  • Monday, December 25: CLOSED
  • Tuesday, December 26: CLOSED
  • Friday, December 29: CLOSED

January:

  • Monday, January 1: CLOSED

The Impact of Weight on Gynecological Health

Women’s bodies undergo a remarkable journey of change and resilience, yet the importance of gynecological health is often undervalued. We are concerned with rising obesity rates.  Studies have found that excess weight has a negative effect on female health. The experts at Covington Women’s Health Specialists are breaking down how obesity affects the well-being of a woman and offer support to meet healthy weight goals.

What is Obesity?

Obesity is a medical condition characterized by excessive accumulation of body fat, leading to an increased risk of various health problems. It is typically defined by a high body mass index (BMI), a screening tool that accesses if an individual’s weight is significantly higher than what is considered healthy for their height. There are many tools online to help you determine your Body Mass Index (BMI).

Causes of Obesity

Women’s bodies go through many changes during their lives. Excessive body fat is associated with a higher risk of chronic diseases like diabetes, heart disease, hypertension, and gynecological issues such as infertility and uterine cancer. We will discuss this more below.

Obesity can stem from various reasons, some of which are within our control, and others that are not. There may be several reasons that contribute to this, such as:

  • Diet choices
  • Lifestyle habits
  • Genetic factors
  • Underlying diseases or conditions
  • Medication use
  • Age-related changes
  • Lack of adequate sleep
  • Smoking cessation
  • Pregnancy
  • Socioeconomic factors

How Does Obesity Cause Gynecological Problems?

Being obese can cause various gynecological health problems. Some of these issues include abnormal uterine bleeding, infertility, spontaneous abortion, fibroids, urinary incontinence, pelvic organ prolapse, gestational diabetes, and pre-eclampsia. Obesity is also a known risk factor for certain cancers, specifically endometrial cancers. The excess fat on our bodies produces estrogen. Too much estrogen can cause disruptions in women’s menstrual cycles and later in life this can cause uterine cancer.

Obesity contributes to the following gynecological issues:

  • Early Puberty: Childhood obesity has been connected to early onset puberty. Studies found a link between this and ovarian hyper-androgynism, PCOS, and cardiovascular issues later in life.
  • Infertility: Obese women may take longer to conceive and have an increased risk of ovulatory disorders. PCOS symptoms can worsen because of obesity-induced insulin resistance.
  • Issues with Fertility Treatment & Assisted Reproduction Technology: Obese women with ovulatory problems may respond poorly to ovulation induction treatments.
  • Early Pregnancy Loss: Overweight and obese women have a higher risk of miscarriage in both natural and fertility treatment-induced pregnancies.
  • Contraception: Obese women face increased pregnancy risks, such as pre-eclampsia, gestational hypertension, macrosomia, induction of labor, and Cesarean section. Additionally, overweight or obese women are more likely to experience maternal deaths.
  • Benign Gynecological Problems: Obesity, which is often connected to PCOS, can lead to irregular menstrual cycles. Even without PCOS, it is associated with long and irregular cycles, as well as benign problems like endometrial polyps and fibroids.
  • Gynecological Cancers: Being obese increases the chances of endometrial cancer in women after menopause.

By making lifestyle changes and discussing a personalized health plan with your gynecologist, you can avoid or reduce the impact of these conditions.

Making long-term lifestyle changes and adopting healthy habits for your overall gynecological health can be challenging. Our team at Covington Women’s Health Specialists is passionate about helping you achieve your health goals. Our medical staff is dedicated to providing compassionate care that is tailored to your specific needs. Request an appointment online or by calling 770-385-8590.

Midwifery Musings: What to Expect at Your Pregnancy Confirmation Appointment

It has been awhile since we have shared with you a look behind the scenes here at Covington Women’s Health Specialists. Last time, Jennifer Walker, CNM explained what a catheter cervical ripening balloon is when she was a nurse-midwife graduate student in her clinical rotation at the practice. Since that blog, Jennifer has graduated and is a new Certified Nurse-Midwife (CNM) at Covington Women’s Health Specialists. Jennifer is back offering insights from the unique perspective of one of our midwives.

As a CNM, I focus on gynecologic and family planning services, as well as preconception, pregnancy, childbirth, postpartum and newborn care for our patients at the practice. My new role has been keeping me busy and I’m loving every single minute of it!

Over the next few blog posts, I will walk you through each appointment and what you can expect at each prenatal visit. Please keep in mind as you read this that each pregnancy is different — no two will ever be the same! This is a very broad overview of this appointment and is subject to change.

So, the day has come. There are two lines on the pregnancy test, you crave pickles and ice cream in the middle of the night, your favorite smells now have you running for the bathroom, and you would rather sleep the day away than anything else. This all means you are officially pregnant!

There are so many questions that you have and want answers now that you’re newly expecting. Where do you go? When do you go? What should you start/stop doing in your everyday life? This time in your life brings on many emotions: excitement, fear, uncertainty, etc.  However, know you are not alone and Covington Women’s Health is here to help you!

First things first – It’s time to get ready for your Pregnancy Confirmation appointment. We’ll guide you through this exciting phase with expert care. Here’s a sneak peek of what you can expect during this important visit that is typically made 6-8 weeks after your last menstrual period:

  • Urine sample to confirm pregnant
  • Assess overall health (medical, surgical, and family history)
  • Adjust any medications that need to be changed or added
  • Assess any risk factors that may affect your health or the health of the baby
  • Physical exam
  • Breast exam
  • Pelvic exam (Pap for women over age of 21 if due/STI swab under age 21)
  • Transvaginal ultrasound for women > 12 weeks pregnant; abdominal ultrasound for women < 12 weeks pregnant
  • Determine due date based on ultrasound and last menstrual period (LMP)
  • Answer and acknowledge any questions/concerns you may have
  • Introduce the patient to resources on our website, specifically “Your Guide To Pregnancy
  • Make follow up appointment for “Initial Prenatal Exam” in two weeks

Get ready to embark on this incredible journey with us, supported by expert guidance and compassionate care. Your Pregnancy Confirmation appointment is just the beginning of an exciting adventure ahead. Call for an appointment at (770) 385-8954, or request one online.