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Lawmakers meet to find ways to help mothers in maternal care deserts

Posted at 7:22 PM, Oct 25, 2023

LINCOLN, Neb (KMTV) — Nebraska is home to some amazing medical professionals working at state-of-the-art facilities. But for Nebraskans seeking care, especially for expecting mothers, those resources aren’t always easy to access.

“Our story is our story, but I assume it's similar to other facilities that have chosen to abandon obstetrical services," said Dr. Jared Kramer with Howard County Medical Center.

Dr. Jared Kramer is one of the physicians urging lawmakers to address the “maternal care desert” that exists across the state.

Around 50% of Nebraska’s counties have been designated a “maternal care desert”, meaning the county has no hospital or birth center offering obstetric care, and even more counties are labeled as low access.

Unsurprisingly Nebraska’s rural counties face the biggest gap in services and the problem only gets worse the farther west you go but even in Omaha there are communities lacking maternal care.

“There are areas where we are doing well in Nebraska in rural areas for example, in rural overall we have lower infant mortality but overall there are areas where it’s worse,” said Dr. Bob Rauner with ALIGN Nebraska.

While more providers is the easiest solution to increase access to care there are other places communities can look for maternal care.

Community-based alternatives, like Doulas or midwives, aren’t typically used in Nebraska but several testifiers say they could help bridge the gap between providers and mothers.

“Supporting group pregnancy care can be a very efficient way to deliver care. Midwives do a great job often of delivering group and pre-natal care. There are a lot of innovative ways we can get high-quality care,” said Dr. Ann Anderson-Berry with UNMC.

Wednesday's hearing was only for gathering testimony, which lawmakers will use when crafting new bills during the next session in January.

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