LITCHFIELD) -- On July 8, 2015, Patti Fischer, President/CEO of HSHS St. Francis Hospital participated on a panel discussion on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC, related to the "Improving Access to Maternity Care Act."
The Capitol Hill Briefing —titled Maternity Care Matters: Who Will Deliver America’s Babies?—was hosted by Senators Mark Kirk (R-IL) and Tammy Baldwin (D-WI) and Representatives Michael Burgess (R-TX) and Lois Capps (D-CA). The four lawmakers are the chief sponsors of bicameral, bipartisan maternity care legislation known as the Improving Access to Maternity Care Act (S. 628 and H.R. 1209). Simply stated, the legislation would direct the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) to identify and designate maternity care shortage areas in order to better geographically distribute maternity care professionals—including OB-GYNs, certified nurse-midwives (Certified Nurse Midwifes) and nurse midwives (CMs)—under the National Health Service Corps (NHSC).
The goal of the legislation is to target maternity care resources to where they are most needed. Congressman Burgess—himself an OB-GYN—was in attendance to welcome the standing room-only audience, followed by a panel of experts to discuss both the legislation and the general importance of increasing access to maternity care in the U.S. The expert panel included: Mark DeFrancesco, MD, President of the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG); Tina Johnson, a Certified Nurse Midwife and the Director of Professional Practice and Health Policy at the American College of Nurse-Midwives (ACNM); and Patti Fischer, RN, President and CEO of Hospital Sisters Health System’s St. Francis Hospital, a critical access hospital providing maternity care in rural Illinois.
Dr. DeFrancesco discussed the maternity care crisis from an OB-GYN perspective, noting that 49% of counties in the U.S. have no ACOG fellow and that nearly 9.5 million Americans live in those counties, which are mostly rural. Ms. Johnson shared the Certified Nurse Midwife perspective, noting that 56% of U.S. counties have no Certified Nurse Midwife or CM. Ms. Fischer shared the perspective of her rural hospital, noting that St. Francis is the only hospital in a two county service area providing maternity services and also noting that recent threats to critical access hospital status could also jeopardize maternity care in rural areas.
All three of the panelists agreed that enacting the Access to Maternity Care Act is a step that will help alleviate the maternity care shortage in the U.S.
Additional details on the Improving Access to Maternity Care Act can be found on the websites of the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists and the American College of Nurse Midwives.
About HSHS St. Francis Hospital
HSHS St. Francis Hospital in Litchfield, Illinois offers a full range of health care services including an advanced surgery center; imaging for diagnostic purposes; and physical, cardiac, and pulmonary rehabilitation. In addition, St. Francis is the only hospital in the two-county area providing maternity services. The hospital is a member of Hospital Sisters Health System and is located halfway between St. Louis, Missouri and Springfield, Illinois. For more information, visit www.stfrancis-litchfield.org.
About Hospital Sisters Health System
Hospital Sisters Health System’s mission is to reveal and embody Christ’s healing love for all people through our high quality Franciscan health care ministry. Sponsored by the Hospital Sisters of St. Francis, HSHS provides state-of-the-art health care to our patients and is dedicated to serving all people, especially the most vulnerable, at each of our 14 Local Systems and physician practices in Illinois (Belleville, Breese, Decatur, Effingham, Highland, Litchfield, Springfield and Streator) and Wisconsin (Chippewa Falls, Eau Claire, Oconto Falls, Sheboygan, and two in Green Bay). For more information about HSHS, visit www.hshs.org.