St. Vincent Hospital, in Greenwich Village, Manhattan closed its doors, and had it’s last mom deliver her baby yesterday morning. Very happy for her, very sad for the staff and the moms of NY. St. Vincent had been serving New York women for 160 years (!) but had to file for Chapter 11 bankruptcy, finally closing its doors late Thursday.
St. Vincent Hospital was ‘extremely midwife friendly‘ and had an overall philosophy of ‘minimally invasive obstetrics.’ “The array of alternatives at St. Vincent’s, in Greenwich Village, was about as extensive as any pregnant women could want, whether you require a planned Caesarean or you want to give birth at home on your couch, it was geared for everything.”
I usually don’t write too much about international stories as there is so much going on right here in the ol’ US of A, but this story really hit a nerve as it sheds some light on our own midwifery history.
Taiwan used to have a rich and thriving midwifery profession since at least the late 19th century and probably much before that. It is estimated that midwives delivered 400,000 babies annually up until the 1960’s. With the advent of economic prosperity in the 1970’s and the introduction of socialized health care in 1995, many proverbial nails have been put in the midwifery coffin, so much so that the state is planning to cancel the midwifery licensing exam all together as only 7 people in the entire country signed up to take it this year. Where there used to be 20 midwifery schools, now only one remains. Of the 300 registered midwives, only about 1/2 are practicing- delivering maybe a dozen babies a year. It’s very sad.
Ok. First off I would like to thank my buddy Vicki for coining the phrase “midwife crisis”. She’s a funny gal, who happens to be very supportive of my decision to go back to school at age 40. And it truly was a crisis…….
On Monday, I emailed the wonderful midwifery director to tell her that I would be re-applying to the program for May 2010. (YAY!)
Although I have wanted this for 18 years, when I withdrew my first application last spring, I was somewhat relieved. I hadn’t really re-visited my feelings on the subject too often, until just last Sunday when the overwhelming urge to birth babies came back and hit my like a ton of bricks. Then, after a conversation with my hubby, it was decided that I needed to do this once-and-for-all. Then I got scared- the sick to the stomach kind.