ONE ON ONE| Dr. Robert Collins Infertility specialist enjoys seeing fruits of labor
What led you to bring your practice to the Youngstown area?
I basically wanted to leave corporate medicine and try private practice. I liked the area, and there were a number of physicians here that I had a relationship with in terms of referrals. There was also a need here. I was still fairly close to Cleveland to maintain some patient ties. And I could also maintain ties to patients who were living here and coming to Cleveland to see me. So it was a good transition.
What are the chief rewards of being an infertility specialist?
When it works and the baby's there. When people are desperate to have children and we're able to accomplish that. For the practice here, we do an annual baby picnic, and it's very rewarding when the families come back and they bring the babies and I see them and they're growing up.
What are the chief frustrations of being an infertility specialist?
In this state, lack of insurance coverage. There are a lot of people who need infertility services, but they're just not being covered.
What is the average cost of in-vitro fertilization per attempt?
For us, it's about $6,500 -- well below Cleveland and Pittsburgh, where they're somewhere between $8,000 and $10,000 per cycle.
What is the maximum number of attempts that you would recommend?
If things go well, we recommend up to four. In between, there may be an opportunity to use some frozen embryos.
What's the most important message you can give to patients to keep their expectations realistic?
Nothing is 100 percent. Things can go perfectly and look perfectly and it may not work. Things can look not so good and they do work. There's a certain element of what we do that's beyond our control. We do the best we can in terms of the circumstances that we have, and we hope that it works out, but it may not work out.
Is there any way you can quantify your success rate by stating a percentage?
No, because it depends on a patient's age and the problem. The younger patient has the best chance of getting pregnant and the older patient has the least.
If time and money were no object, what is the one thing you would do?
If you could have lunch with anyone, alive or dead, who would that be?
I would love to play a round of golf with Tiger Woods. But if I wanted to have lunch with someone, even though he's controversial, that would be Bill Clinton.
Who are your heroes and why?
My dad, Joseph Collins Sr., is one of my heroes. He taught me the work ethic. He taught me the value of work and the rewards of work and patience in order to achieve those rewards. He was a very hard-working person. He died prematurely at age 44, but he would always be the first person who comes to my mind because of what he gave me in terms of values. My other heroes are mentors that I've had along the way.
What's your pet peeve?
I don't like people who don't respect other people's time -- you know, people who are late all the time. I think there's a certain amount of arrogance that people demonstrate when they just don't show up on time. Another one I have is nonhandicapped people parking in handicapped spaces.
What's your main goal in life?
If you had asked me that 20 years ago, I would have said to be a good physician -- the best one I could be -- and work hard at it. Now I want to still be the best physician I can be and serve as many people as I can.
What do you like best about the Youngstown area?
It's not a big city. There's not a lot of traffic. I'm home in five minutes, 10 max. The people here are nice.
What do you like least about the Youngstown area?
The economy in the town, the reputation that's affecting the economy and the inability to draw new business.
Would you support cloning of human beings as another means of allowing infertile couples to have children?
No. I would not support cloning in that manner. What I would support is stem-cell research. We could take your stem cells and grow them for several months and then transplant them back into you for a particular purpose.