Amish Midwifery Care Program
Special Projects Fund
November 15, 2007
The Amish communities of Northwestern Chautauqua County deliver approximately 65–80 babies per year with no professional assistance. Prenatal care, including routine tests and examinations to predict potential complications, are not available in the area. According to Amish customs and beliefs, women do not seek prenatal care during, or after, their pregnancy. As a result, the number of unanticipated complications at birth is greatly increased among this population. With NYSHealth’s support, Westfield Memorial Hospital improved access to prenatal and postnatal care for these Amish families by providing a comprehensive ambulatory midwifery care program for mothers and babies—in the home or in a local clinic—therefore making the site of health care more accessible and culturally appropriate.
As a small, rural, primary and secondary care facility serving 30,000 residents of 14 towns and villages in a 375-square mile area of Chautauqua County Westfield Memorial Hospital recorded 25,000 patient encounters in 2006, including 200 births. As the birth rate falls nationally, the hospital continues to experience an increase in births due in part to the Amish population, but its maternity unit is scheduled to close June 2008.
NYSHealth support will allow the Amish Midwifery Care Program to establish a proactive prenatal through postnatal continuum of care for the Amish communities of Hartfield, Sherman, and Clymer, where currently no obstetric care exists. A certified nurse midwife will be the primary health care provider in concert with licensed obstetricians. This grant will serve the obstetric needs of Amish families (65–80 births annually). The project will be designed to respect the cultural and societal nature of these unusual and insular communities. The certified nurse midwife will provide: prenatal visits assessing mothers’ health, medical history, and propensity for birth complications; nutrition and breastfeeding information; assistance with home birth; and follow-up care for the baby and mother.