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Seen and Heard

Posted on August 13, 2020 in Coronavirus (COVID-19)

Timara McCollum and her "rainbow" babyIt had been about a year since the latest of three miscarriages. Timara McCollum was well aware that her pregnancy probably wouldn’t be a typical one.

Before McCollum found Fort Sanders Perinatal Center, she knew she wanted a medical team of people who understood that her baby already meant so much to her.

“And I was looking for someone who would not just take care of my body and my unborn child, but who would listen to me,” McCollum says.

In the first two trimesters, McCollum was diagnosed with a marginally placed placenta, heart palpitations and gestational diabetes. In her third trimester, she developed cholestasis, a liver condition that would force an early delivery.

On top of all that, the COVID-19 pandemic was in full swing. Fort Sanders Perinatal Center and Perry Roussis, MD, worked faithfully to keep McCollum and her baby safe every step of the way.

“I’ve never experienced someone who had so much knowledge while also being so compassionate,” McCollum says of Dr. Roussis. “I felt like he was a family member during the labor and delivery process, and I felt like I had a team with me. It was such a great moment.”

The McCollums named their new baby Azsa, after man of great faith in the Bible (also referred to as Asa in Scripture). They gave him the middle name Pine.

“When you’re pining away for something, you have much longing for it, and that’s definitely where we were, longing for him,” McCollum says.

There wasn’t much time for a sigh of relief once the baby was in her arms. Little Azsa had trouble breathing.

Timara McCollum and her family

The medical staff at Fort Sanders Regional Medical Center moved quickly. The Women’s Services department works closely with East Tennessee Children’s Hospital so that babies who need extra help after birth receive quick, expert care.

McCollum’s husband stood strong and comforted her, reassuring her that everything was going to be okay. About five hours after Azsa was born, mother and baby were reintroduced and began to truly connect.

Today McCollum rejoices in the blessing of motherhood. She encourages other women facing high-risk pregnancy to listen to their bodies and find support.

“Expectant moms have a right to educate themselves about their bodies and about the growth and development of a child,” McCollum says. “We are their voice before they get a say.”

Fort Sanders Perinatal Center, located on the Fort Sanders Regional Medical Center campus, specializes in high-risk pregnancies, and has helped deliver about 22,000 babies since 1993. The team includes:

  • Physicians who are maternal-fetal medicine specialists
  • Nurse practitioners and nurse midwives with years of experience with high-risk pregnancies
  • Genetic counselors experienced in antepartum testing
  • Diabetes counselors for diabetic patients and patients who develop gestational diabetes
  • Certified sonographers
  • Phone nurse who coordinates patient calls
  • Care coordinator who provides resources for patients before and after delivery

To learn more about Women’s Services at Fort Sanders Regional, visit or call (865) 673-FORT.