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Midwives say they’re being targeted by Danbury Hospital administrators

A Danbury midwifery practice says they’re being targeted by Danbury Hospital administrators. The accusations come following recent events that the director of the midwifery program says mark an overreach by those administrators.

In the first instance, a patient filed a complaint against one of the midwives for the care she received at the Connecticut Women’s & Childbirth Center. According to Cathy Parisi, Director of Midwifery at the birth center, Danbury Hospital opened its own investigation into the midwife, despite the fact that the incident did not occur in their facilities. 

“We did our own internal review of this particular care that the patient was provided and found no cause for any further action,” explains Parisi. “There was no harm to the patient, there was no change in outcome, so I’m unsure why the hospital felt like they need to scrutinize midwives, or anybody, for care provided in the community.”

The investigation went beyond simple scrutiny, however, and the midwife had her hospital privileges revoked last week. Parisi says she has not seen any documentation from the investigation and that the midwife was not permitted to have anyone else present in the hearing.

In a separate incident, Parisi says she was told by Dr. Linus Chuang, who heads up the OB/GYN department at the hospital, during a department meeting, that they were in the process of doing a “deep dive” into midwifery at the facility and that they would not be included in an upcoming voluntary audit by the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology.

Parisi says he declined to go into further detail as to what a “deep dive” might entail, or what it could mean for her practice, but she says she is concerned that her patients could be harmed if the entire practice were to lose their privileges.

In a statement provided to CII and posted to the hospital’s Facebook page, the administration said the following: “Danbury Hospital is committed to the health and safety for all of our labor and delivery patients. Whether a woman chooses home birth, a childbirth center or a hospital for their delivery, we support and are welcoming of all of our patients. We are advocates for all women to have the safest delivery possible. However, with patient safety as our top priority, we have an obligation to address any care we find concerning including matters with independent, community practitioners.”

According to Parisi, her midwives accounted for more than 200 births at Danbury Hospital last year. That includes patients who choose to utilize midwife care alongside epidurals (which require an anesthesiologist and a hospital facility), as well as those who go into early or delayed labor. Without hospital privileges, those patients would lose access to a midwife for their birth.

“To have these women not be able to receive in-hospital care from us,” says Parisi. “It’s going to have an impact on our patient care and an impact on the people of the community.”

Now, that hasn’t happened yet. So far, only the one midwife has had her privileges revoked and there has not been a direct threat to the rest of the practice. But Parisi says this is just the latest in what she sees as a shift in attitude toward midwifery at the hospital under the current administration.

“It appears as if the midwifery practice is becoming more scrutinized,” says Parisi. “I was told by someone in the administration that Danbury Hospital is not interested in the types of patients that we bring to them — meaning women who would like to have some sort of say in their care, would like to be offered options, as opposed to being dictated to.”

Parisi is quick to point out that she has never experienced any issues with the nursing staff or the physicians at the hospital and has received support from them. It is only the administration she feels is targeting midwives. Danbury Hospital did not comment further on these accusations.

In the meantime, she is asking members of the public to reach out to hospital administrators to express their support for the midwives. A patient of theirs has also started a petition on Change.org, which has garnered nearly 4,000 signatures as of this writing. The post on the Danbury Hospital Facebook page has received hundreds of comments, largely in support of the midwives and their work.

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Tricia Ennis

An Emmy and AP award-winning journalist, Tricia has spent more than a decade working in digital and broadcast media. She has covered everything from government corruption to science and space to entertainment and is always looking for new and interesting stories to tell. She believes in the power of journalism to affect change and to change minds and wants to hear from you about the stories you think about being overlooked.

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