Monday, August 27, 2012

When a spade is still a spade...

There is a disturbing trend happening across the country, and unfortunately this trend has made its way to Michigan.  Midwives who find themselves in trouble for negligent care are conveniently changing the name of their "birth centers", and continuing to practice without consequence.  How is this possible, and are their practices really changing? 

The Baby Place in Idaho found themselves paying 5 million to three families whose babies died last year.  Less than a month after they were found to be negligent by a civil court, these midwives decided to simply open a new birth center with a new name.  They would now call themselves "New Beginnings Baby Place", and yes, would continue to practice.  

In Michigan, we now have a new dynamic duo delivering babies.  The first is a former nurse midwife, in trouble for practicing without a license...a license she allowed to lapse in Indiana.  Knowing the laws there state that you must have a valid license to practice midwifery, she continued to deliver babies.   The second is a CPM who is literally out on bail, awaiting trial in fact, for delivering babies in a state that has decided that a CPM credential is not enough education to attend home births (IN).  If being arrested and awaiting trial wasn't a clear enough message, this midwife continues to deliver babies.  These latest additions to the "professional" midwife roster in MI are setting up shop in Sturgis.  Knowing Michigan is a haven for midwives of any kind, (since we have no regulations or laws that require midwives to be licensed, nor do we have any real system of accountability) Jeannie Stanley and Ireena Kesslar have teamed up to to open a brand new birth center, "The Birth Place" to "serve" the women of Michigan.  They aren't advertising much publicly just yet, and I can see why.  Just come to a state where less people know your name, and start a new birth center, why not?  After all, it is God's calling.    

Most recently, the Greenhouse Birth Center in Okemos, MI has contemplated closing its doors, citing, "emotional and legal stress" as the cause.  The "cause" of their stress is debatable, considering several babies have died there in recent years, and others injured, as reported in March by the Lansing State Journal.  Some might wonder why they didn't close sooner.  Closing their doors will mislead many to believe that these MI midwives will stop practicing, when instead, their approach is to solicit their supporters into "buying in" as part owners in a new "community owned" birth center.  

I have to wonder how transparent these birth centers are really being with their supporters.  I wonder for example if they are explaining that anyone who shares ownership in a facility such as this can be held liable for any negligent situation that occurs there, whether they are present at the time of the birth or not.  As a part owner, one would be responsible for everything that happens, even negligent practices on the part of the midwives working there, including babies that die or are injured. 

Considering the reputation, outcomes, and irresponsible practices of midwives from Idaho to Indiana, to Michigan, I don't know who in their right mind would sacrifice their own family's financial and emotional well being for the sake of providing a haven for these people to practice midwifery.  Furthermore, it is appalling, and unprofessional to say the least, that midwives would ask their supporters to put everything on the line for them, when they know well what their actions have been in recent years, and the "burdens" they carry because of those actions. 

Playing the victim when your own negligence has cost lives doesn't get you very far.  I don't have much empathy for people who drive a laboring mother in trouble 45 minutes further, past a closer hospital to save their own reputation.  Nor do I have empathy for people who "forget" to clamp an umbillical cord, or those whose ego prompts them to take on high risk births that they are no where near capable of handling, or those who wonder why a mother severely hemorrhages after telling her to eat garlic daily leading up to the birth of her baby.  I don't feel badly for those midwives who choose not to follow the law, to use illegal drugs, to abandon their patients, lie on hospital records to void themselves of any responsibility, to practice without a license in a state that has taken great measures to keep its citizens safe.  I would say to these midwives, you are not heroines.  You are not doing "God's" work, not the same God I know and love.  You are not serving women and families, rather you are greatly harming them.  Your dangerous practices and reckless choices got you into these messes, you've made your own bed as they say.  Changing your name, using your supporters to take the next fall, and continuing down the same path is far from repentance, nor is it even close to improving safety. 

Dangerous practices are not only allowed to continue due to lacking regulation in Michigan, our state has become a haven for renegade midwives because of it.  When there is no law stating what "midwife" means, or establishing standards for education and practices, anything goes.  Changing your name instead of playing by the rules, practicing outside the law, or failing to actually improve safety, isn't fooling anyone.  Let's call a spade a spade.  Michigan families deserve responsible midwives.  They deserve options in birth, served by people who are educated, licensed, insured, and accountable, and nothing less. 

No comments:

Post a Comment