Region VII Spring Update: Improving Lives in Rural Areas

CNMs and CMs in Region VII are making their voices loud and clear.

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Greetings Region VII CNMs and CMs!

In a prior Quickening (July 2018), I mentioned my first-hand experience working in a rural health clinic in California where there was minimal access to women’s health care prior to CNM presence. Here is some of the work being done by Region VII affiliates to improve the lives of women in rural areas of the Western United States.

In Hawaii, CNMs are licensed as Advanced Practice Registered Nurses, but there is presently no licensing path for Certified Midwives and Certified Professional Midwives. Once passed, HB490/SB1033 would provide a means for certified midwife (CM) and certified professional midwife (CPM) state licensure. Hawai’i Affiliate board (Colleen Bass, Carmen Linhares, Celeste Chavez and Annette Manant) and policy co-chairs Emily Simpson and Jenny Foster are working with Amy Kohl, ACNM director of advocacy & government affairs; Division of Advocacy and Affiliate Support leaders Lynne Himmelreich, Karen Jefferson, Suzanne Wertman, and Dana Perlman, alongside the Midwives Alliance of Hawaii organization for CPMs, to assist the bills through the legislative process. Once passed, the bills will license CPMs and CMs and thereby enable the access to quality midwifery care in a state with many rural island areas.

Idaho’s affiliate president Hannah Underdahl attended the committee hearing in which HR109, a bill create a panel to review the state’s maternal death, was passed. Idaho’s maternal death rate is about 27 per 100,000 births, slightly higher than the national average and to date; Idaho is one of seven states without such a review panel. There are many more steps before such a board will be implemented in Idaho, but the Idaho affiliate midwives will be tracking this, so they will be included in the implementation of the maternal mortality review process.

Alaska’s state affiliate has demonstrated a best practice by providing legislator recognition for work accomplished. Excerpts from a letter to Senator Murkowski from Dianna Kristeller, Alaska’s Legislative Chair include: “On behalf of the ACNM Alaska Affiliate, please accept our most heartfelt appreciation and gratitude for your co-sponsorship of S. 783, the Improving Access to Maternity Care Act. This legislation will reduce critical shortages of women’s health care providers in rural areas… In 2016, almost 35% of the babies born in Alaska were delivered into the hands of midwives, the highest percentage of any state in the nation. Alaskan women insist on, and rely on, midwifery services.”

CNMs and CMs are making their voices loud and clear in Region VII! I am proud to represent you! 

By Ruth Mielke, CNM, PhD, FACNM, WHNP-BC,
Region VII Representative