Last week, ACNM President-Elect, Cathy Collins-Fulea, DNP, CNM, FACNM, participated in a telebriefing for Congressional staff on the impacts of COVID-19 on the nation’s maternal care workforce. Organized by ACOG, the following providers joined ACNM on the panel: Denise Jamieson, MD, MPH, FACOG, Laura Riley, MD, FACOG, and the Chief Medical and Health Officer from the March of Dimes, Rahul Gupta, MD, MPH, MBA, FACP.
The virtual event was sponsored by Representatives Michael Burgess, MD, FACOG (R-TX), Lauren Underwood, RN (D-IL), Phil Roe (R-TN), and Kim Schrier, MD (D-WA). Because the effect of the COVID-19 infection on pregnancy is not completely known due to limited data, panelists provided information on how midwives, physicians, hospitals, birth centers, and other qualified maternal health providers are responding to the needs of pregnant patients and expecting families during the pandemic.
There was synergy between many of the individual remarks made by panelists, including acknowledgment that COVID-19 infection and mortality rates are higher among African Americans and concern for exacerbation of existing racial and ethnic maternal health disparities. Panelists agreed that all strategies seeking to mitigate COVID-19’s impact must consider those populations most susceptible to the disease and ensure adequate resources are allocated so that racial disparities are not continued. Panelists also recommended passage of evidence-based legislation that seeks to close racial and ethnic disparities, like the package of bills included in the Black Maternal Health Momnibus recently introduced by members of the House Black Maternal Health Caucus.
Cathy Collins-Fulea coined midwives as the “forgotten frontline” and urged Congress to prioritize all maternal healthcare clinicians as critical frontline providers. Pregnancies, unlike elective surgeries, cannot be postponed, and as such, personal protective equipment must be prioritized during labor for women, midwives, nurses, obstetricians, and labor support. She further urged Congress and the administration to work to get all healthcare providers the resources they need to help alleviate the strain felt by so many in the care continuum. Collins-Fulea also recommended increasing capacity within the nation’s maternal health workforce, including certified nurse-midwives and certified midwives, noting that permanent removal of restrictive state and federal regulatory barriers that prevent midwives from practicing full-scope midwifery care would help alleviate access to high-quality care pressures felt nationwide prior to the pandemic. Click here to listen to a recording of the telebriefing.