It’s been about two weeks since the last blog post. Babies have been born in the Cape Fear region and we’re still picketing in front of New Hanover Regional Medical Center… We’re still down to one midwife, though we’ll be up to two shortly when SEAHEC (the non profit organization that oversees the education of residents at the hospital) completes the hiring process of a second midwife. That’s still down from the three midwives that we had before Carolina Ob/Gyn dissolved their midwifery service. Go http://wheresmymidwife.org/Press_Links.html to read our press release about SEAHEC’s hiring.
We also attended the health care reform debate on Thursday, August 27, where panelists discussed the ins and outs of health care reform: focusing on cost, rationing, end of life issues, and, for a few moments on birth. Suzanne Wertman, CNM (one of the two former midwives in practice at Carolina Ob/Gyn and a panelist) in her words, ”represented the mothers and the babies, since we all came from mothers and we were all once babies.” Russ Fawcett, legal co-chair of NCFOM (North Carolina Friends of Midwives), directly asked Jack Barto, CEO of NHRMC, what the hospital’s response would be to the midwifery crisis in our town. Mr. Barto was able to make the crowd enthusiastic about his response that SEAHEC was hiring a new midwife. However, we (representatives of Where’s My Midwife and Mr. Fawcett) engaged him in conversation after the debate was over and presented him with our press release.
In the press release, we continue to press for a dialogue with the hospital and with the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology about increasing access to midwifery services, and particularly, about NHRMC’s requirement that a physician supervise midwives on site at the hospital while they have a patient in labor. It’s come to our attention that some folks in our town believe that this is a state requirement, not hospital policy. We want to clarify that state statute permits Certified Nurse Midwives to practice under physician supervision (it’s only one of five states in the U.S. that limits midwives to this extent.) Our hospital has interpreted this even more strictly and, to our knowledge, is one of only a couple of hospitals in North Carolina that have the requirement of on-site supervision. This requirement has limited Certified Nurse Midwives’ ability to practice.
Finally, today, Saturday August 29, sixteen women participated in a flashmob event at the Farmer’s Market in downtown Wilmington. When The Beatles song ”Revolution” began to play, all of the participants (except the one actually pregnant woman!) pulled out faux bellies, stuffed themselves, laid down in the street, and sang along with the music at the tops of their lungs. Two other women unfurled a banner that read “We Won’t Take Birth Lying Down.” It was a fun event that we hope brought some attention to the midwifery crisis that has occurred and the effects felt by women and their families in Wilmington. Videos and pictures coming soon!