It has been nearly 23 years since Suzanne Degelos, PhD, HCLD joined The Center for Reproductive Medicine in Mobile, Alabama as the Lab Director, but she still thinks joining the practice was meant to be. Dr. Degelos has said, “I’m not sure I actually chose to join CRM. I believe it was more of a divine choosing.” At the time, Dr. Degelos had not been actively looking for a position in Reproductive Medicine, but was instead more interested in academic work. “I took a Post-Doctorate position at Reproductive Resources in New Orleans where I had done some research during my Master’s program at LSU and I also had an Adjunct teaching position at LSU.” It just so happened that Dr. Koulianos was searching for a Lab Director for a new IVF clinic he was starting at the Mobile Infirmary Medical Center in Alabama. “Dr. Koulianos did some of his fellowship training at Tulane and had previously worked with the Lab Director at Reproductive Resources at the time. He asked if she could recommend anyone for the Lab Director position at his clinic. From there, it was a match made in heaven…at least I think so! I believe Dr. K would tell you the same thing.” Dr. Degelos jokes that, “Dr. K says it was my smile and my curly hair that got me the job, but I think it was my sparkling personality!”
A Patient Centered Approach and Advanced Fertility Care
The Center for Reproductive Medicine in Mobile, Alabama, is known for their patient centered approach, while offering the most advanced fertility care in the region. For Dr. Degelos, offering patients the best medicine and science possible and always putting the patient first is something that should be the focus of every clinic.
At The Center for Reproductive Medicine, Dr. Degelos goes above and beyond for her patients and does much more for her patients than most Lab Directors. She takes the time to meet and get to know every patient and educates them about the IVF process at weekly embryology classes. Dr. Degelos takes time to offer these classes because she believes “Patients need to be very comfortable going through this process. They don’t need any excess stress and not knowing what to expect just increases the stress. The classes also give me an opportunity to get to know every patient that we are working with and for them to get to know the person in the lab that is helping them build their family.”
Dr. Degelos is not like your typical Lab Director that may not actually be at the clinic each day or ever meet patients. She is there, onsite at CRM, daily to be part of each patient’s journey and is available to patients to answer their questions to help them feel comfortable with the process. “It seems to give patients a real sense of peace knowing who is going to be working with them and how much we really do care. It lets them know that my team and I are not just in the lab doing a job day to day, but we are really invested in their lives and their future. It is a small thing to take a few hours to spend going over their stimulation and embryology, but it goes a long way to build the bond and trust with the patients. It’s not just about the education, but also about making sure the patients trust that, at CRM, we will do everything we can to help them build their family.”
Dr. Degelos also enjoys being able to be there for every patient along their journey, each and every step of the way – including being there even when the lab work is finished and the patient comes for their OB Ultrasound “I love working with my patients. I do my absolute best to be available for every OB ultrasound for our IVF patients- it’s where I see my teams work all the way through for our patients.“ It’s also incredibly rewarding and a special treat when former patients return to allow the CRM team to meet their little ones!
The Importance of Lab Quality
When it comes to providing top notch fertility care, you don’t just need great physicians – you need a fantastic lab. At CRM, you will find unmatched laboratory experience, a hands on approach, and the most state-of-the-art equipment and technology available. Dr. Degelos believes that “you can have the best physicians, the best lab team, the best nurses, the best employees in every aspect of the clinic, but if you don’t have the best LAB you might just as well forget it. In this field, your clinic revolves around the lab and what it is capable of doing.”
Dr. Degelos proudly ensures that the laboratory at The Center for Reproductive Medicine has the absolute top of the line equipment. Through a grant offered by the Mobile Infirmary Medical Center, the state-of-the-art IVF laboratory at CRM was recently updated to include the most advanced technology and equipment available today- including time lapse incubators, embryo culture incubators, microscopes and micromanipulation instruments, and the LifeAire air filtration system – all of which results in increased pregnancy rates and patient success. “Because of Dr. Koulianos, Dr. Inge, the entire CRM team, the Mobile Infirmary Auxiliary, and the Mobile Infirmary Medical Center we have been able to develop one of the best labs in the country.”
Lab technology is also where Dr. Degelos believes there will be advancements in the future that will improve the quality of fertility care. Improvements in environment and air quality systems, culture systems, and advancements in genetic testing will all continue to evolve and improve success rates for patients.
Building the Right Team
At The Center for Reproductive Medicine, team work is critical to providing patients with their best chance of success. The lab is no exception. Dr. Degelos has built a highly trained and experienced team of embryologists, with over 40 years of combined embryology and andrology experience that value patient care and science in the same way that she does. Many of the team members at the practice have been there for over a decade and have helped thousands of patients over the years. “If patients need to talk or have questions, my team and I will spend as much time with them as they need to explain what might be happening. David Hickman, MS our Lab Supervisor and Embryologist, has been through IVF and really can understand what it is like to be a patient.“
25 Years of Excellence at CRM
Dr. Degelos says it has been truly amazing to provide fertility care to thousands in our community over the years. Although, she admits that it hasn’t always been easy. “I almost quit after the first year. I care so much and couldn’t handle the emotion of telling patients they were not pregnant. I took it very personally. After I did a lot of soul searching and prayer, I realized that I could only do so much as an embryologist with the technology at the time. That much of this is not in our hands. However, I was going to do everything I could do as an embryologist, and we would do everything we could do as a practice to help patients grow their families.” So much has changed thanks to the advancements in fertility care over the last 25 years, and Dr. Degelos and the CRM team have seen more than 7,000 babies born!
Dr. Degelos is proud to have been part of the CRM team over the last 22 years and to have helped so many patients achieve their dreams and grow their families. It has not been just a job, but a true passion. “I want to take this opportunity to thank Dr. K from the bottom of my heart for hiring me 22 years ago. I wouldn’t change a thing in the past 22 years!”