BUFFALO, N.Y. (WKBW) — Kaleida Health is being accused of pushing out independent midwives from practicing at its hospitals.
In May the hospital system updated its scope of practice guidelines for midwives.
Now the individual must be a nurse, a certified midwife, and be employed by either Kaleida or a medical practice where at least one provider has OB/GYN privileges at Kaleida.
New York State does not require midwives to be licensed nurses, only certified midwives.
The state does require midwives to have a collaborating physician and make that information available to its patients.
But, Maura Winkler who owns Fika Midwifery in Buffalo does happen to be a nurse, although not all the midwives in her practice are.
She operates the only independent midwifery practice in all of Western New York.
“Since I got to town, the number of options for independent midwifery have decreased,” said Winkler.
Her practice is now the only local site where a woman can have an out-of-hospital birth or home birth with a certified midwife.
But, in the event a mother needs a transfer to the hospital, no practitioners at Fika would be able to accompany the mother for the birth.
“[Kaleida] instituted a few different policies that made it impossible for [us] to continue practicing in the hospital.”
Winkler voluntarily resigned her privileges to work at Kaleida over a year ago, but another midwife in her practice, Lydia, kept privileges to attend hospital transfer births with clients, if necessary.
“I just felt the staff was not receptive of independent midwifery,” Winkler said about her reasons to resign privileges.
Some of her clients were devastated by the updates to the policy.
“It was a little enraging because I felt like it was out of my control. I am an informed woman, I’m making my choice of how I want to have my baby, and should something go wrong…the medical system might fail me,” said Meghan Warner who gave birth with Fika 6 months ago.
We did not speak to any mothers who had a negative hospital transfer experience for this story, but many mothers were uncertain about what their experience might look like if a transfer was necessary.
Winkler says the majority of transfers are not emergent - but for other reasons, like pain management.
“Our clients are feeling overwhelmed about having to go to the hospital and having to go to a care provider they’ve never met before, not to know how that process is going to go, not knowing if they’ll be treated with respect, and not being able to be cared for by the people they’ve built a relationship with the entire pregnancy,” said Winkler.
7 Eyewitness News has reached out to Kaleida Health now for 3 days regarding our report.
The system has not been able to make someone available for an interview regarding the updates to their scope of practice.