Describe your experience with Cardone & Associates.
It’s small and that has both advantages and disadvantages. They definitely seemed to rely heavily on paper files, but did post results to the online portal which was nice (but there could be a significant delay).
The office itself is clean. At the time Dr Cardone was the only Dr, so you didn’t have an option to be seen by someone else if he was unable or something came up. But that didn’t end up being an issue for us. He did all fertility procedures through Boston IVF in Woburn (which was a hike for us), but the day to day visits/check ins were in the Stoneham office which was about 1/2 way and better for me.
We had one hysteroscopy procedure at an outpatient surgery center in Danvers, which was nice and went very well (he does them under general anesthesia btw which is SO MUCH MORE HUMANE than in the office like other providers typically do)
During treatment, did you feel like you were treated like a number or a human?
I felt they did a nice job of seeing me as a human and adjusting treatment based on my specific case and results from prior rounds with other Drs... I did however hear feedback from the donor’s agency where they were not always considerate of her time/giving her a heads up or a calendar of when she would need to do what, etc. Dr Cardine’s wife is the donor coordinator on their end and there seemed to be some communication isssues between her and the agency. Our donor and agency were both remote (in CA) and there were a few times she mentioned to me that it’s much easier with a local donor/agency, so I get the feeling that having a remote donor made it more complicated on her end too. In the end, everything worked out fine, but I felt badly that it wasn a very good experience for our donor (luckily it was her 4th time donating, so she knows it doesn’t always happen that way and we tried to make sure she knew how appreciative we were for everything, but I definitely felt like we needed to apologize for the lack of communication... often the agency was getting updates and info from me before they heard from the donor coordinator)
Describe your experience with the nursing staff.
I honestly forget their names. I want to say there were 2-3 that we worked with and one was super sweet and nice. The other was perfectly competent, but kind of sounded like she was following a script when she was talking to us (maybe she was just younger/less experienced).
The staff who did the blood draws were outsourced from an agency and unfortunately not the best. I remember cringing when certain ones were there (it was a couple of years ago, so I doubt they are the same people now).
There were two ultrasound techs and one had better bedside manner than the other (but again I forget which one). In general they could improve on that whole process, it’s never comfortable as it is. I had scar tissue from an unrelated surgery and it helped if I could guide the probe myself... one was fine with it, the other never seemed to remember and I felt awkward having to explain it every time. IMHO, that should always be offered as an option.
The donor coordinator also seemed to have some lack of communication with the agency and donor. She was fine with me, but the agency said something after about how difficult it was for the donor compared to other clinics the donor had worked with. It may have been because they were not local and that made it more challenging, but I definitely felt like I needed to apologize and was glad this wasn’t that donors first experience.
How was your experience with Vito Cardone?
Dr Cardone is very kind and took time with us to explain and answer questions. We had been through rounds of IVF with other clinics, so he asked what we wanted to know more about, etc and didn’t assume we knew everything. He has been doing this for a VERY long time and is very confident and knowledgeable. We liked that he was one of the first Drs/Clinics in New England to Do donor egg cycles, which is one of the reasons we made the move to him.
We were also being treated remotely by a Reproductive Immunologist (AEBeer Center in CA) and I liked that Dr Cardone’s international/global background and felt that made him more open and accepting of some of the treatments that are less common here in the US, but widely accepted in other countries. So while he wasn’t an expert in some of the RI treatments we used to prep for and layered onto my cycles, he didn’t openly oppose them or discount them like others RE’s I’ve worked with.
What one piece of advice would you give a prospective patient of Vito Cardone?
To me he seemed to offer up as much info as you asked for. So if you want more info, ask lots of questions... I think he’s also one of those Drs you can easily just hand over the keys to and say “ok doc go” and they’ll just tell you where to show up and when... so it’s really whatever your preference is
Describe the protocols Vito Cardone used in your cycles and their degree of success.
I don’t remember the specifics of the protocols, but by the time we saw Cardone I was over the age of 40 (we had been trying for more than 4yrs) and I do recall him saying that sometimes less is more with stimulation... in the cycle we tried with my own eggs I believe we only retrieved 2, both fertilized, but we were only able to transfer 1 of them (and we got a negative test result), he said at this point it could be a numbers game and we just need the one high quality egg, but since we had been trying so long we were ready to move onto DE... but had we started with him sooner, I think he would have had more (egg reserves) to work with and I think we would have had a higher chance of getting one good one with him (than we had with the original clinic we started with)
Like wise when the donor cycle happened, he was much more concerned about quality over quantity. She also had a history of a lower retrieval number but high fertilization rate. So we were comfortable with that approach.
One thing I wish we would have discussed more in our DE plan was ICSI. We did not discuss it at all and it was not used, but in hindsight we had 12 retrieved, 10 fertilized, but 4 were abnormally fertilized and we found out later that those 4 abnormal had double fertilized, so it makes me wonder if we would have had more viable embryos with ICIS. But thankfully we had success with our fist fresh day3 transfer and we have 4 remaining frozen, that we may not even use, so it all worked out fine.
Describe the costs associated with your care under Vito Cardone.
Our insurance covered most or all of the IVF round, visits, monitoring, meds, etc. I believe there was a copay we received a bill for after everything else was processed. If I recall correctly that bill may have come directly from Boston IVF so was a smidge confusing (it as the other Dr’s name on it), but in the end it was fine.
For the DE cycle, we paid a cycle coordination fee directly to the clinic (not covered by insurance. Then all of my meds, monitoring, etc. was covered by insurance. All donor procedures, labs, etc. that happened IN/AT the clinic or with them at Boston IVF were also covered by insurance. But any remote monitoring needed for the donor (because she was not local) was paid for out of pocket (through the agency). There ended up being 2-3 blood draw/labs and 1-2 ultrasounds that happened before she flew to town for final week of monitoring and the retrieval.