The future of SSM Health’s midwifery program is still in question
MADISON, Wis. (WMTV) – SSM Health says it will continue to offer midwifery services for the time being after previously announcing it would cut the program at the end of the year.
It comes amid a backlash and wave of community commentary. On Tuesday evening, SSM Health officials released a statement saying its midwifery program will continue until “a new sustainable model is in place.”
A number of community members, including midwives and patients, reached out to NBC15 to share their concerns and feelings of uncertainty.
Margaux Riewe says she is only months away from the birth of her second child.
Insured by Dean Health Plan, Riewe says she is currently a patient in the midwifery program at SSM Health – St. Mary’s Hospital. She says knowing the program is in danger is a big concern.
â€œPregnant women at this time have the most to lose. I don’t have the luxury of being able to switch insurance providers, â€said Riewe.
SSM Health has previously said patients insured by Dean Health will have the option of switching to community nurse midwives in the network, but some say there aren’t many options available for this.
FULL STATEMENT FROM SSM HEALTH:
â€œSSM Health would like to thank the members of our community and others who have contacted us regarding the changes to our midwifery program. We understand that these changes have raised concerns. We assure you that we are listening and appreciate your feedback.
Based on this community feedback and our desire to maintain access to inpatient midwifery options, we will continue to offer our current services until a new sustainable model is in place. square. Our intention is not to interrupt care.
While our current model of midwifery is not sustainable, SSM Health truly values â€‹â€‹women’s health and remains committed to providing equitable access to care, including midwifery services. We are currently exploring all options for a midwifery model that will continue to allow in-hospital deliveries at St. Mary’s Hospital.
As we work to develop this new model, we look forward to having meaningful conversations with community midwives in the region. We will be reaching out to our current midwifery program patients directly and will continue to share updates as we move to a new model that allows women to have continued access to this valuable service.
Some members of the birthing community say this position leaves too much room for uncertainty.
â€œThey don’t make any promises to us. Say they will offer midwifery care until they find something … what does that mean? Said Natalie Evans, a mom from Madison who says she potentially wants to use a midwife for her next child.
She says eliminating this program would mean fewer options for her and many others.
â€œSome communities just don’t trust the medical facility for whatever reason and I think midwives have been able to overcome that divide and offer supportive relationships,â€ Evans said.
Others agree and fear it could disrupt care.
â€œIt can be very scary and shocking after you get to know your midwife. Knowing that they know exactly what you want and put you first, then all of a sudden after the end of the year you have to go to someone new who may not be giving you the care you want â€ , said Janine Dale Gardner, Full Spectrum. Doula to the Madison Doula collective.
In addition to the dozens of patients, there are four nurse midwives at SSM Health who would be directly affected if the program was ultimately terminated.
Here is a statement from one of them:
In response to SSM Health’s statement that they plan to continue the midwifery program “until a new sustainable model is in place”:
â€œWe are pleased that SSM Health Admin is listening to the protests of its real stakeholders: patients and the community, and that they realize that they have underestimated the value of comprehensive and individualized midwifery care in a complex medical system. We recognize that this is an urgent matter. Open enrollment for many Madison-based health insurance companies through employer groups has started now, with deadlines starting October 23. Many of our families are now faced with the decision to switch from the Dean Health Plan or Medicaid / Badgercare / DHP HMO, which are the only plans that cover the full range of clinical midwifery services affiliated with SSM / Dean and the St. Mary’s Hospital. There is no alternative plan in place at this time, but we are optimistic and excited to work with the administration of SSM Health to develop a plan that permanently maintains access to the sage profession. -full woman at SSM Health over the next week. This will restore consumer confidence in the organization and reassure our patients and their families that they will always have access to clinical and hospital midwifery care at SSM / Dean. Our patients and their families deserve to have this issue resolved in a timely manner so that they can make informed decisions about their health care. “
A demonstration is scheduled for Sunday at 3 p.m. in front of St. Mary’s Hospital.
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