Evie Clinic – a one-stop shop for high-end scanning and pre-natal screening, plus expert advice on diet, exercise and mental health
The individual framed photographs of the Evie Clinic’s team are all the same size and hang in strict alphabetical order on the wall of the entrance lobby.
It’s something obstetrician and gynaecologist Prof Sean Daly is keen to point out as being symbolic of the equality of the medical and non-medical personnel that he has gathered together to provide what he describes as “a game-changer” in ante-natal care.
The name Evie was chosen because it is the Hebrew word for life.
“There is nothing like this, I think, in the world,” he says about the new venture, which also involves the current Master of the Rotunda, Prof Fergal Malone, and five other consultants.
Seated on a small couch in a consulting room at Evie, which is housed in the glass and tiled edifice of Beacon Hall in the Dublin suburb of Sandyford, the grey-haired Daly grins with boyish enthusiasm as he talks about what they are doing and why.
He believes it’s the cohesive nature of the multi-disciplinary, wrap-around care that Evie offers, ranging from the consultants, the high-end scanning and pre-natal screening, to expert advice on diet, exercise and mental health, which sets it apart. A one-stop shop, so to speak, with a big emphasis on psychological well-being, which is “something that is missing”, he says, from the general maternity system.
Medical and non-medical elements don’t always cohabit so happily and sometimes it seems as if practitioners have two separate agendas.
“They shouldn’t be competing – everybody has a role to play and I genuinely don’t think mine is any more important than anybody else’s,” he says.
During almost 30 years in obstetrics, including a stint as Master of the Coombe Hospital from 1999 to 2005, Daly has seen the lifestyle, knowledge and mindset of couples having babies change hugely, while the system of ante-natal care hasn’t. “We haven’t made the effort to keep up,” he remarks.
A significant departure from the norm in Evie is postponing the post-natal care sign-off from six weeks to three months. “I think six weeks is too early to say ‘goodbye, good luck, see you next time’,” says Daly, himself a father of four children, aged between 22 and 16.
“When I think of my own situation – and my wife [Carmen Regan] is also an obstetrician – when we first had our baby, everything changed. One day you can just decide to go to the movies, the next day, although it is wonderful, it is a total change.”
After the birth, the first two weeks are all about the baby, he points out. “This little eight-pound bundle takes over your whole life in a way that is inexplicable.” Over the next four weeks, couples are only beginning to find their feet as parents.
“I think by three months if you are still really struggling, we need to know about that because occasionally couples are still really struggling and then they need a whole different level of support.”
While Evie has been designed with what he regards as today’s very discerning women in mind, the complete package is only for those who want, and can afford, private, consultant-centred maternity care. However, there are also stand-alone services, such as scanning and non-invasive prenatal screening, that can be used on a once-off basis.
All expectant mothers in Ireland are entitled to free maternity care – covering antenatal visits, labour, delivery and postnatal care. But those signing up with a consultant here can expect to pay between €3,000 and €3,900, depending on who they choose, and those fees are not covered by health insurance, unlike the cost of private accommodation in the hospital around the time of the birth.
Evie patients still need to register at the Dublin maternity hospital to which their consultant is attached and this involves a booking visit at that hospital, but the rest of their ante-natal care and post-natal care will be in Sandyford. However, it is not any more expensive to attend Daly or any of his colleagues as a private patient at Evie than it is to go to their private clinics in the Coombe or the Rotunda.
At present, there is no consultant from the National Maternity Hospital on the team but he hopes that won’t be the case for much longer. When setting up, Daly spoke to every private obstetric and gynaecological consultant in Dublin…