Region I Update (Jul-Dec 2020)

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I want to open the Region I update with condolences to Massachusetts midwife Barbara Wax, CNM, MS, longstanding ACNM member, who continued to care for patients in Brocton, MA after she lost her beloved husband to COVID-19. Here is a news story about her.

Affiliate Updates:

Massachusetts: The MA Affiliate supported the ROE Act, which passed!!! This new legislation codifies into law access to abortion services, regardless of what may happen on a national level with Roe v. Wade. They also supported the Racial Equity and Maternal Morbidity Bill, which also passed!!! Their legislative co-chair, Susan Hernandez, CNM, MSN, is on the commission for this, giving women of color and midwives a direct seat at the table. The affiliate worked with an MPH student from Tufts University, who is helping with policy work for the MA ACNM-initiated bill for equal reimbursement for equal services. MA ACNM welcomed a new co-chair of our Diversity and Inclusion Committee, Melissa Nelson, CNM, and a new Vice President, Thamy Crevecoeur, CNM.

Rhode Island: The affiliate sponsored a fall fundraiser for Sojourner House, an advocacy group for victims and survivors of domestic violence located in Providence, RI. The director of Sojourner House compiled a wish list on Target.com and affiliate members provided basic necessities for women and families such as linens, pots and pans, cleaning supplies, cutlery, dish sets, etc. so women in need could have some of their basic needs provided as they transition to new housing. 

The greatest challenge for the affiliate has been membership participation. Everyone is very fragile right now with the ongoing pandemic and the physical and emotional toll it has taken. Cynthia Voytas, CNM, the affiliate president, is so very proud to be among a group of committed midwives who have risen to the task of caring for women in new ways. According to Cyndy, “it is the midwifery way to involve the entire family in the care we provide, but that is not possible during a pandemic. Affiliate business has definitely taken a pause as we all are trying to cope with a changed world.”

RI ACNM would like to highlight Elisabeth (Liz) Howard, PhD, CNM, FACNM, director of midwifery in the Department of OB/GYN at Women and Infants Hospital. She hosted a Zoom leadership round table in honor of the 2020 Year of the Nurse and the Midwife to reflect on the hardships and triumphs in 2020. In a time when nurses and midwives are so overwhelmed, it provided a venue to share stories of perseverance and strength. Watson Caring Science Scholars joined the forum to provide inspiration and insight to lift spirits. There was a computer in the LDR unit at Women and Infants so nurses could participate when they were available. 

As many of you know, traditional childbirth education and parenting and lactation classes have been curtailed by the pandemic. In response, Liz and other community organizations spearheaded free community education seminars via Zoom. They have hosted six seminars with over 100 community members, teaching thousands of women and their partners, who have cited “improved confidence in navigating the transition to parenthood.” The seventh session will focus on family narratives of navigating birth and parenting during a pandemic, with keynote speaker Judith Lothian, RN, FAAN. Previous speakers include Neel Shah, MD, MPP, Ginger Breedlove, CNM, FACNM, and Saraswathi Vedam, CNM. 

Maine: An affiliate member was elected to the Maine State Senate, which is fantastic. She joined in a meeting and gave us a description of her first days in the Maine legislature. We plan to have her give us a legislative primer at one of our educational meetings. 

The Maine Affiliate continues to meet weekly. The first Thursday is a business meeting, the second is a discussion of case studies presented by members, the third is student mentorship, in which the students give us a topic and midwives share expertise, and the fourth is education with a speaker or book discussion. The affiliate is currently discussing Into the Light of Day by Linda Janet Holmes, MPA. This will lead into a discussion of how we will address institutionalized racism in our affiliate and organization.

The affiliate did a major revamping of its website, which now includes a “midwife of the month” feature highlighting one of their members. So far, the site has gotten more traffic than ever before!

New York: The New York Midwives amended its bylaws to reflect the ACNM national bylaws, creating new board positions (At-Large Public Member and At-Large Midwife of Color) and creating the option for co-officers, and they held the first election of board officers. 44% of affiliate membership participated in this election!

The biggest challenge for the affiliate has been member participation and internal organization and structure. There has been a lot of turnover in leadership roles, some committees are no longer active, and there has been some overall loss of membership. The affiliate is focused on building a strong board, strong committees, and strong affiliate in 2021.