American College of Nurse Midwives and ASTHO Collaborate to Improve Health

January 12, 2016|10:54 a.m.| Eileen Beard and Carol Hayes

According to the Institute of Medicine’s 2012 report “Primary Care and Public Health: Exploring Integration to Improve Population Health integrating public health and primary care can improve quality of care for a population and lower healthcare costs. Public health and primary care share a common goal of health improvement, have similar funding streams and resources, and share many similar partnerships. If aligned, public health and primary care could achieve lasting, substantial improvements for individuals and population health in the United States.

One example of a primary care and public health collaboration that has been shown to improve healthcare for a population and lower costs is to improve immunization rates. Vaccinations are one of the most cost-effective public health approaches to reducing healthcare costs because they prevent disease before it occurs and spreads through communities. Since the majority of people receive their vaccinations in a primary care setting (pediatricians office, family medicine, or community health centers), by working together, public health and primary care can be more effective at increasing immunization rates. For more information about improving immunization rates, read this case study.

One organization that has done a lot of work collaborating with public health is the American College of Nurse-Midwives (ACNM). ACNM is the professional association that represents certified nurse-midwives and certified midwives in the United States. Certified nurse-midwives or certified midwives are federally recognized as primary care providers, and they care for women and newborns. An essential part of care that midwives provide includes health promotion, disease prevention, and individualized wellness, and education and counseling. Since all women of reproductive age should have their immunization status routinely assessed and updated, midwives and other primary care providers can make a major contribution to the long-term health of women and their families by discussing the importance of vaccinations and having vaccines readily available for patients.

ACNM has been working with ASTHO and other health professional organizations to improve immunizations rates in vulnerable populations, including racial/ethnic groups and pregnant women. ASTHO received funding from CDC to improve immunization rates in vulnerable populations and in turn funded ACNM, the American Academy of Pediatricians, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologist, the National Hispanic Medical Association, and the Association of American Indian Physicians. Under this funding, ACNM has produced a suite of materials including talking points on immunizations for health care providers, and a series of posters in English, Spanish, and Arabic, and patient brochures with frequently asked questions about influenza, whooping cough, immunizations in pregnancy, and immunizations for women, and a webinar with the Indian Health Service on immunizations in pregnancy.

For more information on primary care and public health integration, visit ASTHO’s Integration Forum web page.

Eileen Beard

Eileen Ehudin Beard, CNM, FNP, MS, FACNM has practiced full scope midwifery for most of her career. In 1981, she opened the first birth center in Maryland, the Baltimore Birth Center, and in 1997 she co-founded Special Beginnings Birth and Women’s Center in Annapolis, Maryland. From 1993 to 2003, Beard was a governor-appointed committee member for the Maryland State Commission on Infant Mortality. She currently serves as senior practice advisor in ACNM's Department of Professional Practice and Health Policy.

Carol Hayes

Carol E. Hayes, CNM, MN, MPH has been a certified nurse midwife for 27 years and currently serves as a liaison to the Immunization Action Coalition and the CDC’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practice for the American College of Nurse Midwives (ACNM). She was a clinical assistant professor of nursing for eight years at Georgia State University and has served on numerous committees nationally and locally for ACNM and the Georgia Nurses Association.