A Snapshot in Time
Spotlight on Perinatal Sonographer Denise Mason
For 28 years of her 35 year career, Denise Mason, RDMS, has taken personal pride in giving the best ultrasound experience possible to her patients. Denise is a registered diagnostic medical sonographer and the ultrasound department manager at Fort Sanders Perinatal Center, and it has been her passion since she can remember.
Denise has spent her career specializing in obstetric ultrasound imaging for women experiencing high-risk pregnancies. She and her team of sonographers have specialized training and certifications for early detection of chromosome anomalies and fetal anatomical abnormalities. The perinatal ultrasound department has been accredited with the American Institute of Ultrasound in Medicine (AIUM) for many years. This medical association sets rigorous guidelines for the training and qualifications of doctors and sonographers who perform high-risk ultrasounds.
“An ultrasound is a window into what’s going on in the uterus. While most of the time, everything is normal, we check every baby carefully. We take each patient’s case very seriously. We pride ourselves in not missing anything.”
Denise currently manages a staff of 10 sonographers. Most trained at the main Perinatal Center office location in the Trustees Towers at Fort Sanders Regional Medical Center, and some continue their practice at one of three additional Perinatal Center locations in West Knoxville, Sevierville and Morristown.
Importance of Sonography
The role Denise’s team plays in women’s prenatal care is imperative.
“We can tell many things from an ultrasound. A patient may come to us because she can’t feel her baby move, or if there is reason to believe the baby is restricted in growth or doesn’t have any amniotic fluid. All these factors are pieces to a bigger puzzle.
In an OB ultrasound, visualization of abnormal findings may be clues that the baby would be happier and do better on the outside. Women come to us, either for a scheduled appointment, or because we randomly find these signals on routine scans, and end up delivering their baby because of what we learn. This tool helps us give the utmost excellent care at a crucial time.”
Denise enjoys her work because it is never boring. She laughs, “You never know what your day is going to look like. A seemingly uneventful schedule can change instantaneously.”
She also emphasizes the importance of the proximity of the Perinatal Center to the hospital.
“If an outside physician refers a pregnant patient to the hospital, many times the first thing the perinatologist, or high-risk pregnancy doctors known as maternal-fetal medicine specialists, will order is an ultrasound to check for pre-term labor signs, bleeding, if the water has broken or how close to delivery the patient seems to be.”
The Best Possible Care
“We are there for women when they are in possibly the most helpless or vulnerable point in their life, or when there is a problem with their pregnancy. On the flip side, it can be one of the most joyous moments in their life when they see their baby on the ultrasound screen, or learn the baby’s gender.
We take care of women from every socioeconomic background. We often see referral patients from other obstetricians because we offer a higher level of care. Our patients are facing anything from multiple gestations, babies with abnormalities and anomalies, or pregnant women who suffer from diabetes, hypertension or other maternal diseases that could affect their pregnancy.”
Looking Back, Looking Ahead
In the early 1990s, the Perinatal Center was established by Perry Roussis, MD, FACOG, a board-certified obstetrician/gynecologist and perinatologist. Denise studied ultrasound at Detroit Medical Center in Michigan, where Dr. Roussis also completed his residency. Denise relocated to Knoxville after Dr. Roussis completed his fellowship in maternal-fetal medicine, and together they have cared for women facing high-risk pregnancy since then. As the Perinatal Center grew, Gary Stephens, DO, FACOOG, and Steven Andrade, MD, FACOG, joined Dr. Roussis to complete the perinatology group as it exists today. Denise states that all three physicians offer their own unique expertise and skills.
“Dr. Roussis has been a wonderful boss, mentor and friend to me. I have learned so much from him about maternal fetal medicine, and I have boundless respect for him.”
As she approaches retirement this summer, Denise looks forward to spending time with her husband, making time for gardening, bicycling, and spending more time with their three grandchildren.
“I trust and hope the perinatal ultrasound department will continue the standards we have created for patient care. I will miss my colleagues, my work, and will greatly miss working with our patients.”
The team at Fort Sanders Perinatal Center, a member of Fort Sanders Regional Medical Center, has delivered more than 26,000 high-risk babies and have served women in East Tennessee for more than 25 years. The expert Perinatal staff can assess your baby’s condition using 3D ultrasound, rule out or confirm potential pregnancy complications, and help you make the best possible healthcare decisions unique to your situation—from conception, all the way through delivery.
The caring team at Fort Sanders Perinatal Center includes board-certified perinatologists, nurse practitioners, nurse midwives, genetic counselors, diabetic counselors, care coordinators and sonographers. For information, call (865) 331-2020.