By Brooke Nunn, SNM

The Nurse-Midwife Service at Hennepin County Medical Center (HCMC) is considered a pioneer in nurse-midwifery services in the state of Minnesota. Founded in 1971, the service’s first director Margaret Hewitt was pivotal in changing common maternity care practices to create a more family-centered experience. Now with six clinics, including their brand new Clinic and Specialty Center in downtown Minneapolis, the nurse-midwives at HCMC cover a large swath of the metro area with a beautifully diverse patient population. They also partner with two federally qualified health centers, Northpoint Health and Wellness and Neighborhood Healthsource’s Sheridan Clinic, to provide services. As a safety net hospital, HCMC has a commitment to provide services to undeserved populations. Approximately 70% of the HCMC midwifery patients are Medicaid recipients. 44% percent of women served by the nurse-midwives are African or African American, 30% are Latina, and 13% are Caucasian.

Another unique characteristic of the HCMC nurse midwives is that they have a dedicated nurse-midwife unit for births that is separate from the labor and delivery unit. Despite the physical separateness, current service director Jess Holm, CNM states that the midwives and physicians partner well together to provide care to women, especially when working to manage high-risk pregnancies. In addition to attending births, the HCMC nurse-midwives provide full-scope care: annual exams, birth control prescriptions and management, and gynecological visits. Most exciting is their new guideline allowing home and free-standing birth center midwives to transfer patients to an HCMC midwife when hospital care is required

With these rich roots it’s easy to see why the nurse-midwives of HCMC have such longevity of practice and loyalty to the organization. At the same time, new growth signals their ongoing commitment to provide quality, holistic care to women and their families.