Alberta Health says more money coming as midwife practices consider closing

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Alberta says more money coming as midwife practices consider closing
WATCH ABOVE: The province of Alberta says more money is coming as several midwife practices prepare to close their doors. Heather Yourex-West reports – Mar 22, 2016

CALGARY – When Cassie Evans opened Honeycomb Midwives with her business partner last fall, their goal was to provide vulnerable women with better access to midwife services.

Less than a year later, the practice is looking at closing its doors.  Not for a lack of demand but for a lack of provincial funding.

“With the amount of funding that we’ve received we can probably stay open for our clients until mid-August,” said Evans.

Honeycomb Midwives isn’t alone.  Calgary’s Red Midwives in Bridgeland and Jennifer Thomson’s practice in St. Albert are also facing closure because their funding has been cut.

“For us, we were given half of what we need to stay open,” said Thomson.  “We were not given enough to function after September.”

READ MORE: Midwives families bring birthing tubs to Alberta Legislature to push for improved funding 

In Alberta, midwives are funded per patient.  It’s called, “courses of care,” and right now the province has promised to fund 2, 744 patients at a cost of $4, 600 each.   The money comes from the province but it’s distributed by Alberta Health Services and last week, AHS announced how that money would be spent.

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“Alberta’s midwives and midwifery practices were advised last week of courses of care allocations, effective April 1, 2016,” Dave Bilan, Interim Vice President of Collaborative Practice, Nursing and Health Professions for Alberta Health Services said. “Courses of care are allocated according to the greatest need and priorities.”

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But according to the Alberta Association of Midwives, the AHS funding allocations have put several new practices at risk.

“We have had some practices who have said they might need to close their doors and we’ve had some midwives leave the province,” Association President, Nicole Matheson said.

READ MORE: Pregnant women using social media to get Alberta Health’s attention 

There are currently 1,800 pregnant women waiting to access midwifery care but under current funding levels, the Association said care can only be provided to about 65% of the women on that list.

“We’d like to see some immediate relief for this current crisis which means an allocation of an additional thousand courses of care which will keep the midwives currently in Alberta working to their capacity.”

WATCH:Alberta’s health minister says next month’s budget will have good news for both pregnant women and Alberta midwives.
Click to play video: 'Hoffman on Midwifery'
Hoffman on Midwifery

Alberta’s health minister says pregnant women have nothing to fear, suggesting that when the provincial budget is delivered next month it will include more funding for midwifery services.

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“Our government is committed to ensuring we continue to grow opportunities for women to have safe deliveries including midwifery,” Sarah Hoffman said.

“If I were an expectant mom or a midwife, I would be looking forward to April 14th or budget day.”

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