In the world of fertility there are only two outcomes for the patients: either they get pregnant or they don’t. That’s why there isn’t a lot of ambiguity at the Pacific Centre for Reproductive Medicine (PCRM). The fertility clinic creates its own success by adhering to a simple mantra: do the right thing for the patients.
This belief has helped the Burnaby, B.C.-based company claim some of the highest in vitro fertilization (IVF) success rates in the country: it reports 63% success for clinical pregnancies (that’s when the fetal heartbeat can be seen by ultrasound at the six-to-seven-week mark). And it helped the firm expand to four clinics in B.C. and Alberta since launching in 2005.
“Do the right thing” might seem a very basic aphorism, but PCRM has clear policies to bring it to life. For instance, the company is strongly committed to staff learning, offering in-house educational sessions several times a month for all team members. It sends employees to health conferences around the world so they can present their research or meet other professionals in the industry. It even supports those wanting to pursue a master’s or Ph.D. by offering tuition reimbursement and mentorship. Caitlin Dunne, a co-director, partner and physician at PCRM, points to the educational pursuits of employees in the company’s embryology department as an example of the value this brings: “Since it’s such a rapidly developing area, we need them to stay updated.” This benefits patients, too—especially those who, thanks to Google MD, expect doctors to be up to date on all new fertility treatments.
PCRM has a highly trained team and full-service laboratories that offer everything from chromosome testing to egg freezing. But they deal in human biology and, like all things in medicine, nothing is guaranteed. Given the stakes involved, PCRM seeks physicians and clinicians with gentle personalities. And, like some other fertility clinics, the company brings in psychologists to train staff on how to effectively talk about difficult subjects, deliver bad news and better support grief-stricken patients. Here, the “do right” mentality becomes paramount. “Sometimes we’re not successful,” explains Dunne. “We believe that the most important thing we can do is to be compassionate and kind, and to provide individualized care.”
When patients are paying, often out of pocket, anywhere from $10,000 to $15,000 per IVF cycle, they also want to know that providers have done their absolute best. One way PCRM shows its commitment to its patients is through advocacy work. For years, PCRM has urged provincial and federal governments to provide public funding for treatments related to infertility, which one in six Canadians will struggle with in their lifetime. Last May, one of its fertility specialists flew to Ottawa to support a parliamentary bill that would allow gestational surrogates and egg and sperm donors to be paid, giving infertile women and LGBTQ couples a greater range of options to facilitate pregnancy.
“Some of our patients can’t afford these treatments, so we believe in putting in the work to advocate for them,” says Dunne. After all, it’s the right thing to do.