Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Things You Can Do to Help

The following is a list of things that you can do to help us stop the Miami Dade College Direct-Entry Midwifery Program from permanently closing:

Attend the Rally at 10 am, Wednesday, August 27, 2008, at the Wolfson Campus!

Contact the Miami Dade College President:

Eduardo Padron
Office of the President
300 N.E. Second Avenue
Miami, Florida 33132-2297



Contact the Governor of Florida:

Office of Governor Charlie Crist
State of Florida
PL-05 The Capitol
Tallahassee, FL 32399-0001

Citizen Services Hotline: (850) 488-4441
Fax: (850) 487-0801


Leave a Comment of Support on this site, educate yourself by reading the articles in the sidebar, and stayed tuned on Miami Dade College Midwives.

Sign our petition!

Continue Reading This Post!

Monday, August 25, 2008



MIAMI, FL (August 24, 2008) – Despite strong opposition expressed by students, mothers, midwives and concerned members of the community, Miami Dade College has closed the Midwifery Program. Students have called and written the College President, Dr. Eduardo Padron to request reconsideration and a meeting with the College Board of Trustees yet Dr. Padron has refused to meet with them.

The students are now planning a Rally to Save the Midwifery Program on Monday August 25th at 10:00a.m. The rally will be held at the office of the President on the MDC Wolfson Campus, 300 N.E. 2nd Ave, Suite 1401 on the fourth floor of Building #1 Miami, FL 33132.

The Miami Dade College Midwifery Students and their supporters will descend on the Wolfson Campus to demand a meeting and reconsideration for the program. We urge concerned members of the community to join us.

The Closing of the Program
On Friday, August 8, the College held a meeting to reimburse the 20 students who had paid for tuition and fees, and to discuss other educational opportunities that the College offers. At that meeting, members of the public showed up to express their disappointment and dissatisfaction, not only with the closure of the program, but also with the unfair treatment of the students, who were required to pay all tuition and fees a month prior to the rest of the student body.

The College claims tough economic times have caused them to close programs with low enrollment and high costs. However, Midwifery is the first and only one out of over 200 degree-granting programs offered at Miami-Dade College to be eliminated as a result of those cuts. Also, the cut took place even though Miami Dade College has reported higher than expected overall enrollment rates for the Fall.

Midwifery students, who had been accepted in May were devastated by the sudden cancellation of the program. Some students had relocated to South Florida, and many had already taken out loans to cover tuition costs. "Miami Dade College doesn't seem to appreciate the important roll midwives play. We fill an important need by providing affordable and accessible health care to at risk communities. As a public education institution, they have failed this community. I am outraged that Dr. Padron won't even address our concerns.” said student Melissa Chin Casey.

MDC's accredited Direct-Entry Midwifery Program, one out of only 10 in the country, was the first and only to be offered at a public institution, offering students a more affordable option compared to the programs offered at private colleges and universities. For example, completing the program at MDC would cost about $10,000 while at other schools, it would be upwards of $20,000. Since it's inception in 1994, over 80 midwives have been trained and graduated from the program.

“With MDC gone, the future health-care demands of our already under served community can't be met. How will midwives be licensed without this accredited program?” said Jarene Fleming, a midwifery consumer. “With the alarming rate of infant mortality and the growing racial health disparities in the State of Florida, it is foolish to eliminate the one program best suited to train more health professionals to address this crisis.”

Midwifery in Florida

According to the latest Florida Medical Quality Assurance annual report, there are 115 active licensed midwives practicing in the state. About 11 percent of births are estimated to be attended by midwives, rather than by obstetrician/gynecologists, and the Florida Council of Licensed Midwives reported that births attended by Licensed Midwives in the state grew by 5.5% from 2005 to 2006. According to the same report by the Florida Council of Licensed Midwives, midwives had a cesarean section rate of 6.3 percent (compared to a 36.64 percent statewide average in hospitals the same year). 
Miami Dade College is a public institution and has an obligation to the public it serves. To take away this program is to take away one of the only affordable opportunities in this country for women to become Licensed Midwives through an accredited program. 

Media Contact: Jarene Williams 305.609.8502 or Melissa Casey 305.305.6927

Continue Reading This Post!

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Midwife Education in the South Decreasing while Black Infant Deaths Increasing

Miami Dade College, the largest institute of higher learning in the U.S., closes its midwifery program, citing economic distress. The students and community protest, citing Governor Crist’s Black Infant Health Initiative (BIHI).

MIAMI, FL. (August 23, 2008) -- The prevailing economic climate is forcing colleges like Miami Dade College in Miami, Florida, to eliminate programs. On August 1, the direct-entry midwifery program received the ax, leaving current and prospective students destitute.

Those students organized a rally, on August 8, to protest the closing of the program at a meeting the College scheduled as “informational.” The College officials vowed to return their money and directed the students to pursue vocational options within its Medical Center Campus.

Abandoned and enraged students contacted their officials, ranging from the College Board of Trustees and President Eduardo PadrĂ³n, to Florida legislators Sen. Frederica Wilson and Sen. Larcenia Bullard, and members of the Healthcare Council. The ultimate goal was to gather the voices of citizens concerned with the rising infant mortality among African-Americans, and to use that leverage to garner support for midwifery.

According to the Florida Department of Health, Black infants in Miami-Dade County are more than twice as likely to die as those born to White mothers. This ratio is evident across socioeconomic factors and is not limited to that county. The problem is so increasingly widespread that one year ago Governor Crist signed House Bill 1269, the Black Infant Health Initiative (BIHI), “to develop strategies to address the disparity.”

Medicaid pays for half of all births in Florida at a time when there are less obstetric providers due to rising malpractice insurance. Maternal care provided by midwives cost half of the care provided by hospital physicians. Midwives, particularly the students of Miami Dade College, are better able to reach the communities affected by the disparities because they represent those same populations--women of color.

But this may be the same old story. America has a history of disenfranchising black women in the teaching and health care professions, beginning in the 1920s and reaching an acme amidst the Civil Rights Era. Strangely enough, Miami Dade College was a progressive model serving as the first integrated college in Florida during that era.

Miami Dade College is not the only accredited institution in the South that has cut its midwifery program. The Medical University of South Carolina and the University of Miami just closed its nurse-midwifery programs. And the University of South Florida closed its program in 2003, leaving the University of Florida in Gainesville, and Emory University in Atlanta. One direct-entry program remains--The Florida School of Traditional Midwifery in Gainesville.

Although the prospective Miami Dade College midwifery students may be feeling demoralized, they move forward in the fight to keep their program and to save the lives of babies in Florida. The students continue to organize and prepare for what may be a repeat of the lunch counter sit-in at Woolworth--a movement revisited.

Continue Reading This Post!

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Miami Dade College Offering Students A Cold Shoulder

This was written by the Miami-Dade College Medical Center Campus President, addressed to the would-be midwifery students of the fall 2008 class:

...the Fall 2008 Midwifery Program class was contingent upon a minimum of 25 academically eligible students having fully paid tuition and malpractice insurance by August 1, 2008. Unfortunately, these conditions were not met. As a result, there will be no new Midwifery Program students enrolled and no first year Midwifery courses offered beginning August 27, 2008.

This was sent to the students on August 5. The College held an informational meeting for the students on August 8 to help them determine their "next steps."

Anger and tears were exchanged in what was held as a "rally," by the students. Other community supporters were in attendance, such as mothers, faculty/staff, and the local newspaper.

The Vice President of the College offered the students the option of pursing one of the 7 vocational programs, or the degree-granting program of opticianry that is available at the Medical Center Campus.

Thus the Midwifery Program was officially closed, permanently, citing economic distress and low-enrollment. The College's website has even been updated to reflect a "suspended" status for the program; other midwifery links are broken. And classes have been pulled from the schedule database.

This midwifery program has been closed at least two other times in the past. Classes do not begin until August 27. There are 25 students, with 3/4 having paid the overestimated $3000 malpractice insurance. In a last ditch effort, students are scrambling, and assembling to write their legislators, and the Board of Trustees, whom the students were told has the final say.

If you've ever had a dream, that you worked hard for and could almost taste the glory, please support these students and contact the Board and other officials in Miami-Dade County.

Thank you.

Continue Reading This Post!

Monday, August 11, 2008

Miami Dade College Letter

Dear Board of Trustees:

Miami Dade College (MDC) was the only institute of higher education to offer direct-entry midwifery at the undergraduate level. In a historical context, MDC has always been a pioneer, beginning when it opened its doors during the heightened Civil Right’s Era of the 1960s. It was the first integrated junior college in Florida, founded on the idea that “anyone with a desire to get a college degree should be given that opportunity.”

The question has been posed as to whether or not a public institution should offer a heavily politicized and potentially litigative field such as midwifery? Our answer must be in the affirmative. If Florida is to be recognized as a state committed to ensuring equal access to healthcare (options) and improving maternity outcomes, and Miami Dade College is to exemplify the standards and continue to be regarded as a leading, innovative institution of higher learning, the Midwifery Program must main intact.

It is the legislative declaration in Florida for a “person to have the freedom to choose the manner, cost, and setting for giving birth.” Furthermore, it is recognized that “access to prenatal care and delivery services is limited by the inadequate number of providers of such services and that the regulated practice of midwifery may help reduce this shortage.” However, even though Florida Legislature set a goal to “intend midwives to be the care providers for 50% of all normal, healthy pregnant women by the year 2000,” we continue to fall short of this achievement. As of 2007, there were only 115 licensed midwives in this state.

We must ask the question, Why is midwifery so important and how does it concern Florida? Let me provide a glimpse of the current status of maternity care:

As of the 2008 estimates in The World Factbook by the CIA, the United States ranks 42nd on the infant mortality list. With 6.3 deaths per 1000 live births, the U.S. trails behind Canada and most of Europe. Yet, we have the most technologically advanced and medicalized healthcare system in the world. According to the Department of Health, infant mortality is often considered the primary indicator that reflects the health of a nation due to its association with a variety of factors such as maternal health, quality and access to medical care, socioeconomic conditions and public health practices.

In 2004, maternity care in Florida’s hospitals cost $2.1 billion. Florida Medicaid pays for half of all maternity care received in our State. Our rate of caesarian sections is one-third of all deliveries, which accounts for $1 billion of the expenditures. Of the ten hospitals with the highest cesarean rates, six are located in Miami-Dade County; thus, at 43.6%, Miami-Dade County had the highest cesarean rate of any region.

Hispanic and African-American women have the worst birth outcomes (as evidenced by SB 2120/HB 1269). African-American women are the most likely to receive no prenatal care, while teenagers are not likely to receive timely care. In addition, Miami-Dade County teens ages 15-19 rate significantly higher in repeat births.

Pregnant women are afflicted by intimate partner violence in a disproportionate amount. The Center for Disease Control found that pregnant women are 60.6% more likely to be victims than women who are not pregnant. The prevailing HIV cases steadily rising in women are likely to aggravate the gender violence. Florida ranks second in the nation for reported HIV cases.

As malpractice insurance costs rise, obstetricians are fleeing their practices leaving pregnant women with perceived fewer options for safe, effective healthcare. Low-income patients are thrust into overcrowded health departments which provide them with little sense of individuality and importance. Routine appointments become devalued and socioeconomic factors hinder progress.

Midwives step in to provide low-cost maternity care to low-risk women. Patients are afforded breastfeeding support, nutrition counseling, reproductive education, and continuity of care. The prevalence of nosocomial infections is not a concern in non-hospital births--neither are the long-term effects of medical interventions such as analgesics and labor-inducing drugs--as they are not utilized by midwives. Women are empowered through midwifery as they learn to take control of their bodies.

The Miami Dade College Midwifery Program students were informed earlier this summer that we had to pay our malpractice insurance upfront. Mistakenly, we believed that financial aid would cover this expense. However the $3000 required of us was due by August 1; and even if we secured private students loans the loans could not be initiated because we are not students of the program until the insurance is paid and we are subsequently enrolled in classes. We are not aware of any other program within the College that has this stipulation.

Midwifery is a calling. To offer us the option of furthering our education through the pursuit of vocational programs or Opticianry (August 8th “next steps” meeting) is an insult. We have not worked for years on our prerequisites, squeezed out money and time, and relocated our families for our College to disregard the hardships that have now been imposed on us. Midwifery is ablaze in our hearts and spitting in the fire does not extinguish it. We prepared for it and it is our only option.

The Midwifery Program students represent the marginalized communities that we will return to serve, without prejudice and with compassion and a unique understanding of the multidimensional needs affecting the areas of the inner-city, rural, migrant, and Native-American reservations. In addition, we are privy to knowledge outside of the academic research arena because we have a vested interest in elevating the status of the people that we represent.

We do not want to attend school out of state. Florida is replete with resources and the solutions we need to accomplish our goals. With a profound cultural atmosphere, Miami Dade College can be an international health model, lending experiences of inter-cultural activities and dynamics, within the borders of the continental United States.

Miami Dade College continues to dominate the educational industry as the largest college in the United States. It awards the most associate degrees in the nation to minorities, among whom the majority are women and non-traditional students. Many students are economically disadvantaged and first generation college attendees. We are those students and we deserve a fair chance.

If Florida International University (FIU) can implement a new medical program, which, as reported in the Miami Herald, is a 28 million-dollar public funding commitment, surely Miami Dade College can enlist the support of the community to keep the Midwifery Program in place. The total cost of in-state tuition for a midwifery student is below $5K.

Midwifery must remain in a public institution of higher learning in Florida, not to discredit private educational establishments, but to bring Midwifery to the forefront of alleviating Florida's problems, and the nation's problems. This permits the study of midwifery to involve academics, with the potential for on-going research, at the university level, among scholars; and we want to align ourselves as practitioners to be a part of that study.

Enlisting and mobilizing prospective and current midwives will help alleviate the disparities in maternal care and fetal outcomes; additionally, it can augment the services already offered by other agencies. Midwifery is only political and litigative insofar as it advances the rights of women as competent health care practitioners and as wholly-informed patients.

Our fight will continue. Your options are to act as an obstacle to the future of midwifery in Florida, or to facilitate this matter and allow us to begin our fall 2008 class on August 27. I hope that you will choose the latter.

Continue Reading This Post!

Saturday, August 2, 2008

Miami Dade College Suspends Midwifery Program

This should be a sad day for women as the only institution of higher education in the U.S. that offers direct-entry midwifery education, closes the program for supposed financial reasons.

As of the 2008 estimates in The World Factbook by the CIA, the United States ranks 42nd on the infant mortality list. With 6.3 deaths per 1000 live births, the U.S. trails behind Canada and most of Europe. Yet, we have the most "modern" and medicalized healthcare system in the world.

One in three births in the U.S. are by Cesarian section with an increasing maternal mortality rate as well. As OBGYNs are fleeing their obstetric practices due to rising malpractice costs and the threat of litigation, pregnant women have had decreased options for safe and effective maternal care.

Midwives step in and provide low cost care to healthy, low-risk pregnant women. There are minimal interventions and care can be coordinated with obstetricians in order to provide the most effective care for high-risk women.

A key to remember is that doctors are trained to identify and treat pathology. In most cases, pregnancy is not a state of ill-health or disease. Women have been giving birth since the dawn of time, assisted by other women, midwives.

Please, ladies, gentlemen, if you care about the increasing infant mortality rate, increasing c-sections, and a woman's right to choose a safe alternative for maternity care, stand up and say something about this.

Continue Reading This Post!