It will take at least 10 months for Red Deer to get any midwives, maybe longer, despite new provincial funding to pick up the cost for families.
The Alberta government provided $4 million on April 1 to make midwifery fully covered under Alberta health care for 2009-10. But there aren’t any midwives in Red Deer to provide the service.
“It would be April 2010 before we could get a midwife in that area. If we can get them,” said Jane Baker, president of the Alberta Association of Midwives.
The funding will be allocated to existing midwives.
Baker said Red Deer could easily use three midwives.
“There are targeted areas for growth, with Red Deer absolutely being one of them.”
Making the service available in Red Deer all depends on how successful Alberta is in recruiting midwives from other provinces or other countries. Classes at Alberta’s new four-year midwifery program at Mount Royal College aren’t going to start until September 2010.
Alberta’s approximately 30 midwives are mostly located in Calgary and Edmonton and there’s been no shortage of families or women there who want a midwife since the funding was announced last fall, Baker said.
“It’s been absolutely crazy. The phone started ringing off the hook.”
Even if people in Red Deer were willing to travel to another community, it’s unlikely midwives have the time to serve them, she said.
“We don’t just catch babies. It’s taking care of somebody from the beginning of pregnancy to six weeks postpartum,” Baker said.
The only midwife in Central Alberta works in Rocky Mountain House. She is also quite busy serving clients in her area.
Cheri Purpur, who was a midwife in Red Deer from 1993 to 1996, was thrilled that funding has finally arrived after years of promises.
Finding midwives for Red Deer is the new hurdle, she said.
“It will happen, but it will take time,” said Purpur, who is now the nurse manager at Red Deer Hospice.
“There is a wide open market here in Central Alberta.”