Doctor’s African Experience Shapes San Antonio Practice

Mary J. Stokes, MD, CHRISTUS Women’s Health, The Children’s Hospital of San Antonio, Baylor College of Medicine

Before moving to San Antonio and joining CHRISTUS Women’s Health, I worked as an OB-GYN for two years in Africa with Baylor College of Medicine. Many of the women I cared for arrived at our hospital too late: too late to perform a cesarean delivery to prevent a fetal death and maternal injury after prolonged labor, too late to start antibiotics and prevent a life-threatening postpartum infection.

Dr. Mary Stokes (left) was part of the Baylor Global Women’s Health Fellowship program at Kamuzu Central Hospital in Malawi, located in East Africa.

In these cases we provided the medical care that we could, but felt defeated when we could not save the life of a baby who had already died, or prevent permanent uterine, bladder and vaginal injury that had already occurred. These outcomes could have been avoided with prompt recognition and action, but the women did not have access to specialized obstetric care when they needed it.  They did not have sufficient prenatal care to identify potential risks for themselves or their babies. They labored at home or in small rural clinics without a physician or surgeon nearby.

During her time in African, Dr. Stokes participated in intensive clinical activities, teaching of students, interns, residents and others, as well as research projects to improve childbirth outcomes for women and their babies.

As I anticipated my move back to Texas, I knew I wanted to work in a setting where my patients would have access to every available resource to ensure the safety of both their baby and their own life and well-being.  I appreciated more than ever the importance of quality obstetric care. A majority of women will have smooth pregnancies and deliveries, but when an emergency arises, prompt recognition and immediate treatment is needed to prevent tragedy. 

We at CHRISTUS Women’s Health are committed to ensuring the highest level of care for our patients.  We are affiliated with Baylor College of Medicine, and our team includes OB hospitalists, maternal fetal medicine specialists, geneticists and neonatologists, all committed to the same goal of ensuring the best possible outcomes for our obstetric patients and newborns delivered at The Children’s Hospital of San Antonio.

In a perfect world, the same level of care would be available to women everywhere, but I am thankful to be part of a practice in San Antonio that can offer expectant mothers all the resources they need for a healthy pregnancy and delivery.

If you need an OB-GYN, we are accepting new patients at CHRISTUS Women’s Health located at 315 N. San Saba. Please call us at 210.704.4172 for an appointment.