In July of last year, the renowned fertility clinic CCRM quietly opened its newest location in Northern Virginia, bringing the vibrant network of clinics across the country to an even ten. When the original clinic, Colorado Center for Reproductive Medicine (CCRM) started in 1987, there was no way to know that several decades later they would have 35 of the world’s best fertility doctors leading centers in places of influence such as Houston, New York, San Francisco, Toronto, and now, Northern Virginia. Neither would they have believed, though, that 80% of their patients would be flying into Denver to experience their unique combination of high-tech reproductive science, painstaking attention to patient care and consequentially, their above-average success rates. Clearly, the demand was there and pointed toward replicating around the country.
The genesis of CCRM Northern Virginia
CCRM identified Northern Virginia as an appealing market with strong prospects due to its size and room for fertility services. Next began the search for a local highly-respected doctor to anchor the clinic. In this way, they connected with Dr. Mark Payson, a noteworthy professional in the region with extensive background in the field. “I was flattered when they approached me to be the founding director,” he said without hesitation, noting the simultaneous benefits of being part of the greater CCRM community while maintaining independence in day-to-day operations. Dr. Payson said, “The clinics are set up so that we have complete autonomy with our clinical decision-making within, of course, the framework of CCRM standards and philosophies.”
Building a team and strong foundation
Dr. Payson tapped Dr. Vasiliki Moragianni to join in the venture, having determined that she was a perfect fit. “When we recruit and grow, we want like-minded physicians who aim to care for the whole patient, in terms of creating a great patient experience but also creating really high success rates, and being open to new ideas and change.” For her part, Dr. Moragianni, a fertility specialist whose work Dr. Payson had followed, feels fortunate to be on board, saying that they work seamlessly as a team. “We knew of each other professionally and had interactions and it’s really exciting to now be working together,” Dr. Moragianni said.
The open collaboration between the doctors is all for the sake of the patient. She explains that every detail discussed, down to the initial design of the offi ce was with the patient in mind. That sense of patient hospitality continues through the duration of the process, because, “when a patient comes in, that person will receive most if not all of their care under the same physician. It is a very close, hand-holding approach with the patient,” Dr. Moragianni said.
What to expect when you walk through the door
Dr. Payson described the clinic simply as full-service, complete with its own state-of-the-art lab. “The majority of our patients are couples or single women who have tried to conceive and not succeeded.” Examples of other services offered are for women wishing to preserve their fertility, the LGTBQ community who need assistance with reproducing and also, adds Dr. Moragianni, to treat those with reproductive endocrinological diseases. After a battery of tests are run, “we re-group to discuss what we found and our best treatment options,” said Dr. Payson.
These treatment options vary greatly, from freezing eggs for future use, to intrauterine insemination (IUI) or prescribing oral medication to help a woman ovulate. “For most advanced cases, in-vitro fertilization (IVF) is the answer, which is the gold-standard of fertility care,” Dr. Payson said. This well-known process creates embryos by removing eggs and combining them with sperm in the lab to create embryos that are then implanted in the uterus.
Leaders in signature testing
One of the major ways CCRM distinguishes itself from other clinics is through their leadership in chromosomal testing of embryos. “In 2007, CCRM [at the Denver-based research laboratory] developed Comprehensive Chromosomal Screening (CCS), a test which has been adopted and used by clinics around the world,” said Dr. Moragianni. This signature test makes sure there are the correct number of chromosomes in the embryo, which in turn significantly increases the chances of pregnancy. A healthy embryo matters immensely for a healthy pregnancy, because chromosomally abnormal embryos are the greatest cause of miscarriages. “This test helps lower the psychological and medical burden of experiencing miscarriage,” said Dr. Payson. Various other complications as well are highly probable with an embryo lacking the essential building blocks, adds Dr. Moragianni, situations avoidable by conducting CCS testing.
What makes this clinic special
Dr. Payson identifies two main things which make CCRM a special place. The patient experience is exceptional, providing an extra level of support for patients going through an emotionally challenging process. “Infertility is extremely stressful and can be simply overwhelming.” Drs. Payson and Moragianni pride themselves on providing superior patient care, individually catered to the patient. “So, although we are part of a large and growing national network, we are a small, two-doctor clinic. Our patients receive individualized patient care. This is an intentional effort,” Dr. Payson said. And should a patient desire ancillary services, such as seeing a psychologist, or pursuing acupuncture or yoga, he says they assist the patient to connect with these services. “We treat patients in a holistic manner, so they have as close to a stress-free experience as is possible.” The message of patient first is sounded over and again. Second, the clinic anchors this passion for patient care with the high-tech side of things. This is where CCRM science intersects with CCRM service and has shown signature-high CCRM success rates, rates which surpass national averages.
Dr. Moragianni says that having a full host of top researchers and scientists at the main lab in Denver continuously working to develop new answers to infertility and helping drive up success rates is a huge confidence booster. “They have our back. It’s the years of experience of pioneering and innovating in reproductive science. There’s a complete confidence in the state-of-the-art labs we use, and then Dr. Payson and myself bring in our expertise and personal touch to offer an individualized experience for each patient.”
This intentionality in combining innovating science with rigorous attention to patient care is unmistakably part of the overall CCRM culture. The result? Success.
Goals for 2018 and beyond
Though the Northern Virginia clinic is new, Dr. Moragianni thoughtfully describes her aspirations for its future. “We have not set out to be the biggest clinic in town. We have set out to be the best, in terms of success rates and personalized, individualized care.” Dr. Payson echoes this sentiment and adds, “We’d love to be the place where people come first, not as their last resort.” This trial/error path leads to profound discouragement, resulting in patients often arriving at their door emotionally exhausted and feeling a bit hopeless. Dr. Moragianni readily points out that stress is the enemy of success: “Success is impacted by stress levels and offering a calm trust-engendering atmosphere is key.” Being in an atmosphere where the patient feels supported, understood and welcomed alleviates at least one source of stress, which can negatively impact success rates.
This unique, hospitable environment essentially describes a boutique clinic, one which caters individually to the patient and offers greater degrees of satisfaction and success. This success cannot be separated from living within the CCRM collaborative community, a network of top fertility doctors freely sharing knowledge with an uncompetitive esprit-de-corps spirit. These stimulating relationships between the Denver-based research and development lab and amongst the doctors of the various clinics directly benefits each and every person who walks through the doors of the CCRM Northern Virginia clinic looking for answers.
Visit Your Local CCRM Clinic
Schedule your appointment by calling 571-789-2100, or, log onto their website, www.ccrmivf.com, select Northern Virginia location and follow the prompt on the homepage. Located in Tyson’s Corner at: 8010 Towers Crescent Dr, 5th Floor Vienna, VA 22182.