The New Hope Center for Reproductive Medicine
Every new baby is a miracle to Dr. Robin Poe-Zeigler. For nearly a quarter century as a reproductive endocrinologist and fertility specialist, she has assisted in creating more than 4,000 such miracles.
Dr. Poe-Zeigler – known as “Dr. Robin” to patients – has become a fixture in the Hampton Roads community since founding The New Hope Center for Reproductive Medicine in 1997 to combine clinical excellence, cutting-edge technologies, and compassionate care.
After welcoming her only child, Derek, following her own pregnancy loss, Dr. Poe-Zeigler has made it her mission to help others overcome obstacles to parenthood. New Hope’s pregnancy rates are among the highest in the country, ranging up to 80 percent in some age groups.
“What’s incredible is that the daughter of a patient I helped years ago is now a patient of mine,” she says. “Once we get her pregnant, that will be the start of a whole new generation in the New Hope family. What a blessing.”
There are many procedures available at New Hope. A recent addition is INVOCell, a thumb-sized device approved by the FDA in 2015. The intravaginal culture system, much less expensive than full IVF, allows for fertilization of a few eggs and several days of embryo development inside the vagina instead of in a laboratory.
“I’m a huge advocate because it opens my doors to more people,” Dr. Poe-Zeigler says. “In female same-sex couples, it also allows both women to be involved in making their baby – one to contribute her eggs and potentially carry the device for five days, the other to carry the fetus – which is very special.”
Dr. Poe-Zeigler has shed light on infertility during numerous media appearances and offers a free support group to address patients’ emotional health.
“Many are highly driven, successful women, but they have no control over fertility,” she relates. “They see friends getting pregnant and having baby showers, and that’s very painful and isolating. They need people who understand. Sometimes they just need a hug.”
Once dreaming of a United Nations career after being a foreign exchange student in high school, Dr. Poe-Zeigler grew fascinated with medicine in her early 20s when her mother was diagnosed with breast cancer. She enrolled at Eastern Virginia Medical School and considered gynecologic oncology, but the specialty proved too painful after losing her mom.
“While pregnancy loss is also heart-wrenching, there’s always new hope for another pregnancy,” she notes. “That idea has given great meaning to my life.”
After a four-year OB/GYN residency at WellSpan York Hospital in Pennsylvania, Dr. Poe-Zeigler completed a fellowship at the Jones Institute for Reproductive Medicine. As a fellow, she endured a troubled 42-day pregnancy and miscarriage, first undergoing treatment for a suspected tubal pregnancy and then a dilation and curettage (D&C) procedure.
“Honestly, I was angry with God because I’d done everything right,” she recalls. “But later, I saw God’s hand was involved because I have so much empathy for my patients now. My experiences made me a much better physician.”
Dr. Poe-Zeigler hopes to teach in the near future, looking to pass along lessons not found in books to medical residents and fellows. Retirement likely will come if Derek, now 25 and a graduate student in public policy and law at the University of Michigan, gives her grandchildren.
“My son is absolutely my biggest achievement in life,” she says. “I want all my patients to feel the same joy I have in being a parent. To me, family is everything.”
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