For Charles and Rosalyn “Roz” Lowenhaupt, service to the community is a way of life.
“Our mission is trying to help our community,” Charles says. “We do that because our community has been very good to us, and we want our children and grandchildren to live in a world of beauty, peace and health. The whole family is focused on how we serve the community.”
As part of their commitment to St. Louis, Charles and Roz are longtime donors to many of the city’s institutions and organizations, including The Foundation for Barnes-Jewish Hospital.
Charles also had a unique experience in shaping the way the economically disadvantaged population in St. Louis receives medical care. He served as president of the Foundation of the now-closed St. Louis Regional Medical Center, a nonprofit public hospital that was a safety net for the city’s uninsured and underinsured. The center provided medical services regardless of a patient’s ability to pay and was crucial to caring for some of the city’s most vulnerable people.
In the late 1990s when it became clear that the St. Louis Regional Medical Center did not have the resources to continue operating, Charles was tasked with making sure the medical center’s population would continue to have access to care.
“It was then I saw that the world of health care was filled with people who care about social services,” Charles says.
One of those people was Jim Crane, MD, an obstetrician and former associate vice chancellor for clinical affairs at Washington University School of Medicine. Dr. Crane helped establish the first prenatal diagnosis program in Missouri and helped implement Missouri’s first in-vitro fertilization program. He was also a vital partner to Charles and his colleagues during the closure of St. Louis Regional Medical Center.
“Charles has been a longstanding advocate for medically underserved people in our community,” Dr. Crane says. “Working together with Charles, medical leaders and city and state government officials, we were able to craft a plan that preserved access to both inpatient and outpatient care for this vulnerable population.”
Charles’ time at St. Louis Regional Medical Center gave him special insight into the challenges disadvantaged women face in maternity care. “Working with a number of maternity experts in town, under the leadership of Dr. Jim Crane, I came to understand how important maternity care was for the population Regional was looking at and how underserved it really was.”
Today, many of the same patients that St. Louis Regional Medical Center served now receive care at Barnes-Jewish Hospital. So when COVID-19 started spreading in the St. Louis community, the Lowenhaupts knew it was time for action to help these women in need.
They decided to create a fund to support patient care, research, equipment, education and training in the Obstetrics and Gynecology Clinic at Barnes-Jewish Hospital. The clinic predominantly serves low-income women of color with a high chronic disease burden and a high rate of hypertensive disorders of pregnancy.
According to Ebony Boyce Carter, MD, MPH, maternal fetal medicine specialist at Barnes-Jewish Hospital and Washington University School of Medicine, the fund will be crucial in bridging gaps in care during a time when telemedicine is playing a larger role in obstetrics care than ever before.
“Although much of the world’s focus is on the lethal respiratory effects of COVID-19, especially in the elderly, emerging information suggests that COVID-19 puts young women and their babies at increased risk of pregnancy complications,” Dr. Carter says.
As a result, during the COVID-19 pandemic, the clinic is providing high-quality care with social distancing wherever possible. Fortunately, much of prenatal care can be done through telehealth appointments with the significant exception of blood pressure monitoring.
“Screening for hypertensive disorders of pregnancy, like preeclampsia, is a key component of prenatal care because complications of high blood pressure for mom (including stroke and seizure) and baby (growth restriction and stillbirth) can be catastrophic,” says Dr. Carter.
This is especially important for Barnes-Jewish Hospital patients, who have a high rate of hypertensive disorders, occurring among 15 percent of the patient population compared to 5 percent nationally.
“The very first thing we will do is obtain blood pressure cuffs for high-risk patients to allow us to more safely and easily perform telemedicine visits and hopefully avoid the need for postpartum re-hospitalization. We will be able to adjust their medications more safely over the phone and video conference,” says Molly Stout, MD, MSCI, interim chief of the division of maternal-fetal medicine at Washington University.
“We were in desperate need of a reliable, accurate means of monitoring blood pressure remotely and the generous gift from the Lowenhaupt family has fulfilled this previously unmet need,” Dr. Carter says. “Prior to this gift, our highest risk patients with the lowest socio-economic resources were the most likely to need in-person prenatal visits because they lacked the necessary tools for safe monitoring at home. The Lowenhaupt family has assured that all patients, regardless of economic status, have access to high-quality care that keeps them safely at home as much as possible during the pandemic.”
Please join the Lowenhaupts in their mission to support vulnerable mothers in our community with a gift of any amount to help the Obstetrics and Gynecology Clinic at Barnes-Jewish Hospital continue to provide much-needed prenatal care during the COVID-19 pandemic. To make a gift online, indicate “Lowenhaupt Fund” under “Areas to Support.”