ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — University of New Mexico health system patients struggling to get pregnant this summer had to battle with more than their bodies after the system permanently closed its infertility clinics and sent patients to the area’s only other clinic, a private practice not initially covered by UNM insurance.
That clinic, the Center for Reproductive Medicine, is now the only provider of top tier treatments for infertility in the state.
Eve Espey, chair of the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology for the UNM School of Medicine, and clinic doctors Jim Thompson and Lee Caperton say the insurance glitch is now fixed, the surge of patients from the closure has been scheduled for appointments and residents formerly studying at the UNMH practice are now set up under the private clinic’s long-time fertility specialists.
“This is very common in small states like ours,” said Espey.
New Mexico is one of only five states with one fertility treatment specialist who can perform in vitro fertilization. Wyoming is the only state that has no IVF provider.
The UNM clinics that closed in June with the retirement of Dr. Francis “Cisco” Byrn included the Reproductive Medicine and Fertility Center and the infertility, menopause and urology male infertility clinics.
Most – but not all – of the services provided by those clinics have been assigned to other doctors in the hospital system.
Initial fertility work-ups and preliminary rounds of medicine treating infertility are still available, but the more advanced treatments, including insemination and IVF, are no longer available.
The IVF treatment was offered only on a limited basis at the UNM practice by a visiting physician from Colorado in the UNM insurance network.
When the clinic closed, Espey said the UNM system worked to get Thompson and Caperton established as preferred providers in the UNM network.
While there were some difficulties, that issue has been worked out, Thompson said.
And the surge of clients from Byrn has been absorbed in Thompson and Caperton’s practice, which has been consistently ranked as a top preforming clinic in the nation.
Between 10 percent and 15 percent of the world’s couples experience infertility, Caperton said, and that holds true for New Mexico.
Eve Espey, chair of the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology at UNMH.