By Sylvia Foley, AJN senior editor
Photojournalist Alice E. Proujansky reports in AJN this month on The Birthplace, a collaborative care practice model at Baystate Franklin Medical Center in Greenfield, Massachusetts, where a team of five nurse midwives, three obstetricians, and 35 nurses attend some 400 to 500 births annually. Except for preterm and other higher-risk deliveries, the nurse midwives manage all deliveries and monitor fetal and maternal health. Patients complete detailed birth plans that afford them various care options. Physicians are called in only when necessary; as one nurse midwife told the author, “There’s an awful lot that we can do on our own.”
How well does the model work? The Birthplace has lower-than-usual rates of medical interventions such as episiotomy, epidoral anesthesia, and cesarean section. The patients have greater autonomy and decision-making capabilities. And the practitioners “relish the collaborative approach,” says Proujansky, who interviewed several clinicians and patients for the article; her photographs appear alongside the text and on the December cover. Proujansky’s last piece for AJN, a photo essay on a Dominican maternity ward, appeared in our December 2008 issue; read it here.