Region I Spring Update: Celebrating Achievements and Contributions

Congratulations, celebrations, and deep gratitude is in order for all the amazing midwives of Region I do.

Region 1 celebrated Black History Month. In February, Massachusetts ACNM Diversity and Inclusion Co-chair, Joelle Leacock, posted daily on Facebook. In Joelle’s words, she highlighted “contributions of Black people all over the world who have devoted their work and their lives to the health of women and children. From physical, to mental health, empowerment, and technological advancement, the contributions are too many to count. We hope that these few will inspire those in the birthing community to continue to speak out and advocate for women of color, not just this month, but every day. Mary Coley, Miss Margaret Charles Smith, Maude Callen, Onnie Lee Logan: Grand midwives of the American South were central, honored figures in their localities who rose from a legacy of slavery and who were critical to women’s health care during segregation. They passed down not only their knowledge, but also important cultural traditions and values. Their contributions as pioneers in the care of women cement the legacy of our profession of midwifery.” We appreciate your efforts, Joelle. This month and every month, may we continue to honor the lives and contributions of so many remarkable people, even those whose names we will never know but nevertheless we hold in our hearts, upon whose shoulders we stand.

Congratulations and thank you to Katherine Rushfirth who has completed a magnificent term as Massachusetts ACNM President, which included
during her tenure since 2016, thriving remote meeting attendance, legislative and organizational strides, and social justice activism. Welcome Mary Paterno, the new MA ACNM President, who has already re-filed a bill for equitable reimbursement for midwives. Katherine Rushfirsh is transitioning to Legislative co-chair with Rinn Mandeville. What a team! 

Congratulations to Dr. Margaret Holcomb, DNP, CNM newly elected President of the Burdett Birth Center Medical Staff, and Chief of OB/GYN Burdett Birth Center and Samaritan Hospital and a member of Burdett Birth Center Board of Directors in Troy, NY. Did you catch that? Margaret is the President of Medical Staff. She was the first graduate of Stony Brook University’s Midwifery Program, and since becoming a certified nurse midwife in 1996, she has opened three midwifery practices, chaired in 2004 what was formerly the ACNM Service Directors Network (now the Midwifery Business Network Caucus), and co-authored a chapter on group prenatal care in Best Practices in Midwifery Care. Margaret co-founded Capital Region Midwifery, PLLC, which has united with St Peter’s Health Partners Medical Associates to continue providing care in Troy, Niskayuna, and Cohoes in upstate New York.

New York midwives with Sascha James-Conterelli as President of New York State Association of Licensed Midwives (NYSALM) at the helm, are proud to have had the Reproductive Health act signed into law by Governor Cuomo in January. This law codified Roe vs. Wade, removed abortion from the criminal codes, and allows all providers that are under Title VIII – which includes midwives – to perform abortions. New York midwives are pushing toward completion of the midwifery-led birth center regulations, and the Governor’s Maternal Mortality and Racial Disparities Task Force submitted 10 recommendations to the Governor, of which 3 were directly related to midwives!

Sascha James-Conterelli had a wonderful visit in the Virgin Islands with Shannan Calhoon, CNM in December 2018. Although the midwives in the Virgin Islands are not considered independent practitioners, they do have admitting and discharge privileges and are considered a part of the medical staff. Shannan migrated to St. Croix more than 10 years ago. Sascha, who is a native Crucian, says Shannan “has gracefully enculturated, learning culture and tradition of the Island, and has developed a thriving midwifery practice close to the center of St. Croix, increasing access to midwifery care for all Crucians. After Hurricane Maria, Shannan and other midwives in the Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico came together to continue providing critical services to the community. The contribution of these silent heroes–assisting birthing families in tents with little to no supplies, electricity, or running water for many months–was extraordinary and deserves to be honored.”

Profound gratitude to all Region I midwives for everything you do, and to those who support us in a million different ways so we can continue to do amazing work. Well done, everyone! See you at ACNM 64 in DC this May!