She is working with Lane County obstetrician Dr. Paul Qualtere-Burcher to draft guidelines that would help midwives and their clients decide when they need to seek medical help, based in large part on Cheyney's research, and another that would ask physicians to recognize midwives as legitimate caregivers.
Qualtere-Burcher said creating an open channel of communication isn't easy.
"I do get some pushback from physician friends who say that I'm too open and too supportive," he said. "My answer, to quote (President) Obama, is that dialogue is always a good idea."
Qualtere-Burcher said he believes that if midwives felt more comfortable contacting physicians with medical questions or concerns, there would be a greater chance that women would get medical help when they needed it.
"Treat (midwives) with respect, as colleagues, and they'll not be afraid to call," he said.
Qualtere-Burcher doesn't expect immediate buy-in, but hopes that if a small group on each side agrees to the plan, it will provide more evidence that a stronger relationship between physicians and midwives will lead to better outcomes for mothers and infants.
"We're having a meeting in early May to propose a draft for a model of collaborative care that might be the first of its kind in the United States," Cheyney said.
Cheyney is also pushing to get hospitals and the state records division to better track homebirths. The department of vital records had no way to indicate whether a birth occurred at home until 2008, and without being able to pull data, Cheyney said it's hard to explore the nature of home birth in Oregon.
She's also working on education programs for midwives in rural areas, including a cultural competency piece as demographics in Oregon continue to change.
|Contact: Melissa Cheyney|
Oregon State University