Meet Marshall St. Amant, MD, of “Giving Birth in America: Louisiana”
By Hannah McCouch
As one of only a handful of maternal fetal medicine specialists in the state of Louisiana, Dr. Marshall St. Amant, is in high demand. Medicine runs in his family: his father was an OB/GYN, his grandfather and great grandfather, country doctors. Louisiana is a state where access to prenatal care is severely limited, in large part because many have no good way to get to a doctor. Bus routes are inconvenient, often non-existent, and those who rely on them can spend whole days simply getting to and from appointments.
On days when Dr. St. Amant is not seeing high-risk patients at Woman’s Hospital in Baton Rouge, he travels by car and more remotely, by twin-engine plane to visit women who might not otherwise have access to medical services they desperately need.
“My job is to take care of women that have issues in pregnancy that are not normal: hypertension and diabetes frequently associated with obesity; twins, triplets quadruplets, babies with fetal abnormalities, Down’s Syndrome…”
After the flooding, Dr. Amant noticed an uptick in patients suffering from depression. Many didn’t have a place to sleep, much less the means to travel to appointments when they were displaced. “They were worried they couldn’t get the medicines they needed, worried they would miss doctor visits.” And while his patients come from varied racial and socioeconomic backgrounds, he notes that those below the poverty line have “a lot more difficulty because their baseline health is typically not quite as good.”
“I guess I have some fears about the cost of medicine getting so high we can’t provide necessary services for our patients. I worry if my son goes into medicine, he may not be able to practice the way I did and my father did. I think the bond between a doctor and his patient is an incredibly important thing. I’d be sad to see that go away one day.”
Meet Marshall St. Amant, MD, Louisiana