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Local clinic works to calm anxious mothers’ Zika fears

Every mother-to-be is nervous, but with the arrival of the Zika virus, women of childbearing age have new anxieties, and one local doctor said he’s hearing some of those concerns.

WASHINGTON — Every mother-to-be is nervous, but with the arrival of the Zika virus, women of childbearing age have new anxieties, and one local doctor said he’s hearing some of those concerns.

The Chief Medical Officer at Mary’s Center for Maternal and Child Care Dr. Tollie Elliott said the first rule of reassuring a patient starts with listening.

“When you give the patient the floor first, you tend to get the panic in the voice” Elliott said.

Then, he said, it’s his turn to explain to the patient what is known about Zika and how it’s spread. The questions naturally follow. Elliott said once the patient gets some answers, “that’s where the anxiety level goes down and when they feel comfortable with the level of care that they’re getting”

So far, all the documented cases of Zika in Maryland, Virginia and D.C. were contracted in Zika-affected areas. In Elliott’s practice getting a good travel history is critical.

“I could say that we’ve seen people from all over the globe — from all the continents,” Elliott said.

The health departments of D.C. and the surrounding states of Maryland and Virginia are working together, keeping each other up to date on the latest cases and where they’re coming from, Elliott said. Zika, he said, “is a regional problem — it’s not a Mary’s Center problem.”

Mary’s Center treats nearly 40,000 patients among its three facilities in D.C. and Maryland, and roughly 2,500 of those are pregnant women. Elliott says patients come from more than 100 countries.

“Any day, in any one of our facilities, there is some translation of services into languages from around the globe,” he said.

For information, patients can call 1-844-79-MARYS.

for information about Zika and pregnancy from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

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