Midwife crisis averted | AspenTimes.com

Midwife crisis averted

Naomi Havlen
Aspen Times Staff Writer

Aspen’s midwife crisis may have been averted.

A physician is going through the application process to become a temporary supervisor for three local nurse/midwives at the Aspen Center for Women’s Health.

The Center’s co-owner, Teresa Hall, would not identify the obstetrician/gynecologist since the arrangement has not been formally approved by Aspen Valley Hospital. Hall did say the doctor has 19 years of experience in the field of obstetrics.

In Colorado, nurse/midwives must be supervised by a physician in order to deliver babies and prescribe medicine. Dr. Kenton Bruice, who worked with the midwives for four years, left in early August to form his own practice.

Although the midwives would have liked to immediately hire a new doctor to work with, the hospital had a policy of limiting the number of physicians practicing obstetrics at AVH. The hospital’s board of directors overturned that policy at a meeting on Monday night, making it possible for the midwives to search for a new physician.

“We have a doctor in the process of being approved,” Hall said. “Hopefully it’s imminent.”

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Hall said several physicians contacted the Center after reading about the midwives’ dilemma in local newspapers.

“We didn’t have a solution to our problem, but all the publicity brought us some people to consider,” Hall said. “I think that things will be fine as soon as we have someone settled in.”

Hall said if the temporary relationship with this physician works out, the Center may consider hiring her on a permanent basis. In the meantime, the three obstetricians practicing at AVH, including Dr. Bruice and doctors Melinda Nagle and Mallory Harling, are working with the midwives on an on-call basis.

The approval process for temporary privileges at the hospital includes reference and background checks, and verifying credentials like a medical license to practice medicine in Colorado, said Aspen Valley Hospital spokeswoman Ginny Dyche.

The chairman of the perinatal department, the chief of the medical staff and hospital administrator Randy Middlebrook will ultimately make the decision about approving temporary privileges for a new obstetrician.