The province recently hired consultant Gisela Becker – who has an extensive background, both nationally and internationally, in midwifery – to head up the two-year pilot project.
Becker is set to take up the post in September. According to Health Minister John Haggie, she will start by focusing on establishing provincial policies and training requirements.
From there she will set up the first of two pilot projects – one rural, one urban. The rural site will be established at James Paton Memorial Regional Health Centre and focus on midwifery for low-risk pregnancies, along with ante- and postnatal care.
“She would, as part of the first year’s work, set up infrastructure and polices around that pilot scheme,” said Haggie. “At the end of the first year she would be involved in recruiting what we hope will be three midwives to work on the eastern side of Central Health.”
The health minister said central Newfoundland was selected as the jumping-off point for the rural pilot because of an expression of interest from Central Health and the OBGYN and pediatric community.
With obstetric shortages in Gander, midwifery can provide backup and a team approach, he said.
“It will benefit the whole region, but certainly the immediate tangent will be some support for the sole obstetrician when he returns from his leave of absence,” said Haggie. “We have all the other backup in Gander in terms of pediatrics and hospital facilities, but it’s really to try and find that niche for regulated and licensed midwifes.”
Following establishment of the central setup, Becker will be tasked with setting up an urban-based pilot on the Avalon Peninsula.
If successful, Haggie said the pilot programs could potentially be “cloned” for use in other areas of the province.