Outer Cape Health Services will restore its nurse midwife practice following a year with no prenatal or postpartum care available here, OCHS CEO Pat Nadle said this week. Certified nurse midwife Meredith Goff will start part-time in March and work one day per week, spending half her time in Provincetown and the other half in Wellfleet.
Goff told the Independent that she believes one day a week should be enough to meet the needs of Outer Cape residents. With the smaller winter population, she said, “I think that working four hours a week at each site will give women the opportunity to get the services that they need.” Goff will also offer gynecologic services.
Goff retired last October after eight years of working locally but has continued to provide gynecologic care just once a month. She will begin weekly hours in March because of previously made winter plans.
Nadle said she is glad that Goff is returning. “It’s very good news,” she said. “She’s been with us for many years, so she’s trusted by the community and very passionate about her work.”
Nadle contacted Goff at the beginning of October and asked if she would be interested in returning on a part-time basis, said Goff.
Goff plans to work only through 2020. She is concerned about the lack of women’s health services here and wants to find a replacement before leaving. “I hope I’ll have the opportunity to train somebody so that the service will be sustainable,” she said.
After Goff announced she would retire last year, Outer Cape Health searched for a replacement. The organization terminated the program when no one could be found, Nadle said.
“It’s very hard to recruit nursing midwives,” she said. “We worked with Cape Cod Healthcare thinking we could jointly recruit or use someone that they had. But it just didn’t work out.”
For the past 12 months patients had to travel to Hyannis for women’s health services and pre- and postnatal care. The long commute is onerous, especially for expectant parents who must see a practitioner frequently. Goff said she thinks women begin prenatal care earlier and have more checkups when they have a local option.
Although Goff hasn’t yet told many people about her decision, “I imagine that there will be some enthusiasm because it will save people a lot of time and aggravation to not have to drive to Hyannis,” she said.
Goff is concerned that pregnancy is not highly visible on the Outer Cape. “There’s a perception in the general public — nobody’s out here having babies,” she said. “But that’s not true.”
Outer Cape’s decision followed the Independent’s August report by Susannah Fulcher titled “Childbirth on the Edge.” Goff noted that, though there was no direct link between that story and her being rehired, “I’m very grateful to Susannah for bringing the needs of child-bearing women to the attention of the general population.”
Nadle said that Outer Cape is “thrilled to have her back. The community expressed their concern, and we listened.”