UPDATE: Borgess & Ascension Health — where’s my midwife?

By Jessica English, LCCE, FACCE, AdvCD/PCD/BDT(DONA)

Today, we are celebrating the best of news! We received the official word late yesterday that administrators at Borgess Medical Center, an Ascension Health facility, have restored full midwifery privileges to the Certified Nurse Midwives practicing through Borgess Women's Health. Fantastic!

There are a number of very specific things to celebrate in this shift, but the one that has us jumping for joy is that the Borgess nurse-midwives can once again attend VBACs. This is huge for our community, and it means that Southwest Michigan families again have access to VBAC with midwives at both Kalamazoo-area hospitals.

You might remember the background, that these privileges were taken away from the Borgess midwives in 2015, and in the fall of last year we reached out to Borgess officials with a public campaign, as they were also exploring the option of restoring CNMs to their full scope. (Read our original blog post.) You all responded with calls and emails, and Borgess responded in return.

Thank you, Dr. Frink and Borgess, for listening to families.

Midwife VBACs are back!

Back in September, Beth Hawver from Friends of Michigan Midwives and I met with Dr. Jennifer Frink, the overseeing physician at Borgess Women's Health (Ascension Borgess). Right away, Dr. Frink let us know that she and other hospital leaders had seen your emails and cared very much about what the community wanted. She promised to continue her efforts to restore the midwifery privileges, and to do it as quickly as possible. (We understand that the wheels can turn slowly sometimes in big organizations.)

It's easy to get cynical about the healthcare system sometimes, but I really felt that Borgess heard us — "us" meaning all of you. I met alone with Dr. Frink in November, and she assured me that things were continuing to move ahead. We've checked in several more times since then by email. All along, I continued to hear the care and concern for families. Ascension Borgess was listening. And they acted.

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As consumers, you have power. Thank you for using your voices. Ascension Borgess showed they care.

So many of our students and clients have received great care at Ascension Borgess over the years, which was one reason why the CNM privilege issue was such a blow. People appreciate midwifery care, and they want safe options for how they give birth. It seems like Borgess is back on track and ready to continue their great history of family-centered care.

I want to give a shout-out also to the nurse-midwives at Ascension Borgess, who were huge players in getting these privileges restored. They attended countless meetings, advocated tirelessly with their colleagues, and co-wrote new policies that would address everyone's needs and concerns. It's not easy some days, I'm sure. Advocating for broad, systemic change is a lot like advocating one family, one birth at a time, only in extra slow-motion. It took a loooooong time for this baby to be born, but they never gave up.

That's why we love our midwives.

So well done, Ascension Borgess. Well done, nurse-midwives. Well done, Dr. Frink and colleagues.

And most of all, well done all of you, the parents who made your voices heard. One of the things we believe most in the world is that families have power, and that your voice matters. Today, Ascension Borgess has reminded us that it really, truly does.

Welcome back, midwife-led VBACs at Borgess. We missed ya', and we can't wait to see what's to come.

Borgess midwives VBAC