Kendal K. Stephens, M.D., brings practicing OB/GYN experience to maternal-fetal medicine specialty

At Norton Children’s Maternal-Fetal Medicine, Kendal K. Stephens, M.D., is specializing in high-risk obstetrics. She describes her practice as being like three specialties in one: internal medicine, radiology with ultrasound interpretation, and obstetrics.

Kendal K. Stephens, M.D., spent a decade as a practicing OB/GYN before entering a maternal-fetal medicine fellowship. Now, Dr. Stephens is eager to consult with obstetricians caring for high-risk pregnancies.

“Patients often want to deliver close to home. We support the obstetrician in providing a high level of care locally when possible.” Dr. Stephens said. “Partnering with their doctor is really important so patients can have the best outcome for their pregnancy.”

At Norton Children’s Maternal-Fetal Medicine, Dr. Stephens is specializing in high-risk obstetrics, which, she said, is like three specialties in one: internal medicine, radiology with ultrasound interpretation and obstetrics.

Obstetrics procedures include genetic amniocentesis, cervical cerclage, vaginal and cesarean deliveries, and cesarean hysterectomy.

As a high-risk obstetrician, Dr. Stephens cares for patients with placenta accreta spectrum, periviable and preterm labor, antepartum bleeding, congenital birth defects and genetic syndromes that require coordination with neonatology and pediatric subspecialty care.

Meeting women’s need for high-risk pregnancy care

She also manages mothers with preexisting medical conditions such as hypertension, diabetes, lupus, kidney disease, substance use disorder or those taking multiple medications. Using Norton Children’s Hospital’s regional Level IV neonatal intensive care unit and Norton Children’s Perinatal Center can reduce neonatal and maternal severe morbidity and mortality.

“We can help determine when transfer to our tertiary care center is necessary,” said Dr. Stephens, who is board certified in obstetrics and gynecology and board eligible in maternal-fetal medicine.

At Norton Children’s Maternal-Fetal Medicine, Dr. Stephens can consult subspecialists to assist with caring for the most challenging cases.

For example, during a recent delivery of a women with preeclampsia with severe features and pulmonary hypertension, Dr. Stephens and Lyndsey D. Neese, M.D., were assisted by a cardiologist, an anesthesiologist, a neonatologist, a general surgeon and an intensivist during the perioperative care of their patient. This ensured the safest delivery for both mom and baby.

Before joining Norton Healthcare, Dr. Stephens was a fellow in maternal-fetal medicine at the University of Cincinnati School of Medicine and the Cincinnati Fetal Care Center in Ohio.

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Dr. Stephens decided to leave her practice for a fellowship because she noticed an increase in the number of women with high-risk pregnancies. Women are becoming pregnant later in life and often had comorbidities such as diabetes or high blood pressure.

“I was taking care of a lot of things in private practice that I wanted to understand more about, and I wanted to be able to handle any difficult circumstance patients could have,” Dr. Stephens said. “It just seemed like the right time to go back.”

Building relationships with providers and patients in her home state

Previously, she worked as an OB/GYN at the University of Cincinnati Health Women’s Center at West Chester Hospital in Ohio, where she also served as an associate professor in obstetrics and gynecology. She also worked in private practice in Floyd and Clark counties in Indiana.

Dr. Stephens earned her medical degree and completed her residency in obstetrics and gynecology at the University of Louisville School of Medicine.

A native of Owensboro, Kentucky, Dr. Stephens said she’s glad to be back home in Kentucky and to work with doctors she remembers from residency and private practice.

“After my fellowship it was just a very comfortable fit. This is home for me. It’s a great opportunity to come back to a vibrant, busy practice in this area. We are very fortunate to have a hospital system with expertise in caring for high-risk moms and babies,” she said.

Dr. Stephens is making physician outreach and community education a priority. She has scheduled talks on thrombophilia and on diabetes and pregnancy and plans to do more in the future.

According to Dr. Stephens, when focusing on high-risk pregnancies building a relationship with doctors and patients is key.

“It’s just really important to have someone they can trust or that their doctor can call if they have any questions or concerns,” Dr. Stephens said. “I want to be the liaison between the patient and her physician.”

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