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Health care workers protest closure of midwifery services at Manhattan hospital

Health care workers protest closure of midwifery services at Manhattan hospital
Health care workers protest closure of midwifery services at Manhattan hospital 02:18

NEW YORK -- Health care workers are taking a stand against the closure of midwifery services at a hospital in Inwood, Manhattan. 

CBS New York's Natalie Duddridge spoke to midwives about how it's impacting a community already considered underserved.

"We're vital. We're vital to the community," said Yvonne Torres, who has been a midwife at NewYork-Presbyterian Allen Hospital for 35 years. "I can walk along Broadway and see women that I delivered and also taken care of the children that I've delivered."

It came as a shock when the Allen Hospital announced the closure of its midwifery program with no explanation.

"It happened all of a sudden ... They were gonna do more for the community, have more midwives, have more doctors, have more nurse practitioners, and then two weeks later, we get a letter that we're terminated," Torres said.

A spokesperson for NewYork-Presbyterian said:

"We are evolving our perinatal care model and care teams at NewYork-Presbyterian Allen Hospital, with a focus on increasing access to the highest standard of care, including the best and most experienced clinicians."

In total, seven midwives will be terminated, effective March 3.

"That's not enough time to hire more staff to staff the labor and delivery room. It's going to be a very unsafe situation for patients," midwife Alison McDonald said.

McDonald says midwives already provide the highest standard of care. She was inspired to become a midwife after using one during her labor.

"I just had a wonderful experience. It's unlike any other health care I've received," she said. "Midwives certainly have a lower C-section rate. I know the midwives I saw during my pregnancy had maybe a 12% C-section rate compared with higher than 30% in the city overall."

Experts says they play a vital role in reducing maternal and infant mortality rates.

"We have to prioritize not only maternal health, but infant mortality," said New York City Councilmember Carmen de la Rosa.

Community members say the closure raises concerns about health inequities Black and Brown women already face.

"I hope they're able to fight it through and succeed," one person said.

"We call upon the hospital's administration to reconsider their decision," said Ingrid Deler-Garcia, a nurse midwife.

Advocates say some cuts don't heal. The New York State Nurses Association is demanding the hospital maintain the program.

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