Cuts to the only midwifery program affiliated with Evergreen Hospital have outraged Eastside families who support an in-hospital midwifery program. Families and birth professionals plan to rally in front of the Evergreen Family Maternity Center on Tuesday, November 15th at 4 pm to show their support for midwifery at Evergreen. They also plan to attend the Board of Commissioner’s meeting that evening at 6:30 pm to voice their concerns.
As of November 17th, families on the Eastside of Lake Washington will have fewer options available during labor and delivery. The Center for Women’s Health at Evergreen (CFWH), a private practice with offices at 12303 NE 130th Lane, Suite 500 in Kirkland, WA, previously offered a full-service midwifery option for prenatal care and labor & delivery. Now they will be making drastic changes to their midwifery practice due in part to budget cuts. Some of these changes include:
- The number of Certified Nurse Midwives (CNMs) is reduced from 5 to 2.
- The CFWH will not guarantee a CNM will attend their patients’ birth because the CNMs now share on-call duties with 6 other Obstetricians (OBs).)
- The CFWH has limited the length of time a CNM may spend with their prenatal patients.
- The CNMs are unable to offer continuous care during labor and delivery because they are required to see patients during office hours.
- The CNMs are no longer able to support patients who wish to have a Vaginal Birth After Cesarean (VBAC) because there is no longer dedicated OB back-up which is essential for a VBAC.
In the recent past, Evergreen Hospital showed interest in creating an in-house midwifery practice. However, the hospital suddenly and unexpectedly decided not to pursue the in-house clinic, eliminating the chance for true midwifery support during Labor and Delivery at Evergreen Hospital.
Midwifery care is a more holistic approach to birth. Traditionally, midwives stay with women throughout their delivery, supporting their patients in physiological birth. Midwife-attended births also tend to have little to no interventions, with great outcomes for mothers and babies. Because of the lower rates of interventions, midwife-attended births are also a lower-cost option for expectant families. The cesarean section rates for midwife-attended births also tend to be much lower than those births attended by OBs. The Cesarean Section rate for the midwives at the CFWH during the original midwifery model was a low 15% so far this year (source: Midwives at The Center for Women’s Health at Evergreen), as compared to the 30% rate at Evergreen Hospital overall in 2010 (source: The Washington State Department of Health). It is projected that these numbers will be going up soon due to the elimination of VBACs and due to the on-call changes at that practice.
Although many patients chose midwife-attended births at home or in a birth center, the option of a midwife-attended birth in a hospital is an excellent middle ground for those who want a more holistic experience, yet also want to be in a hospital setting in case interventions are necessary. These changes at the CFWH and Evergreen Hospital eliminate the option for higher-risk groups to birth with a midwife since they are not eligible to birth at home or in a Birth Center.
The community support for a midwifery program at Evergreen has been overwhelming. An organized grassroots effort to encourage the Hospital to create an in-house midwifery program has included the formation of a Facebook page, which now has more than 500 supporters and includes testimonials from families who delivered at the CFWH with the midwives, an online petition (http://tinyurl.com/midwiferypetition), a letter-writing campaign to the Board of Commissioners, the establishment of a website and more. The first public display of support is planned for November 15th with the rally and board meeting attendance.