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Los Alamos County Community Birth Care Survey: Results

“What should birth look like in Los Alamos County?” was the compelling invitation to participate in a recent community survey sponsored by Ten Moons Collective titled “Los Alamos County Community Birth Care Survey”. And the families of Los Alamos answered in a mighty way. The Collective thanks all the individuals who took the time to respond and share their perspective, as well as the local businesses who generously donated services to support a giveaway for the survey: Jessica Benge Photography, Tribe Yoga and Wellness, Vintage Hair Co., and Windgate Healing Arts.

In November, a consumer advocacy group comprised of friends who are mothers, consumers of care at Los Alamos Medical Center, and local birthworkers met with Los Alamos Medical Center (LAMC) administrators. The advocacy group’s concerns arose from staffing changes at LAMC, and the implications of those changes to the availability of obstetric and postpartum care in Los Alamos. Those changes also affected the availability of care for sick newborns. All parties concluded a community survey would help illuminate the needs of families in the community.

Three hundred and thirty-eight people responded to the survey, almost 200% of the ten-year average number of births to County residents (168.2, 2009-2018). Survey results indicate that, in general, respondents are most likely to seek obstetric care in a hospital setting, but interest in midwifery care is high. A little over half the respondents preferred a female obstetric provider and slightly under had no gender preference. Insurance coverage of and ease of access (in distance and availability) to both birth provider and place of birth rated high. Perceived skill level and ability to partner with the care provider were deemed important, while safety and reputation rated high for place of birth. The majority of respondents reported they feel negatively about available birth options in Los Alamos County.

You can find the full results of the first quantitative analysis of the survey at: tenmoonscollective.com. Qualitative and further quantitative results will be published separately in January.

Los Alamos Medical Center has seen a downturn in births in the last year, partly due to the loss of an obstetric provider, and later due to nurse and neonatal staffing shortages, which contributed to three periods of diversion. During each diversion, families were told that instead of delivering at LAMC, they would need to drive to Española or Santa Fe when in labor and give birth there. Although nurse staffing is now stable, Los Alamos Medical Center has lost its remaining permanent obstetricians, and will now rely on locums, or traveling, obstetric providers to see women in the clinic and on the labor and delivery unit. Additionally, LAMC has agreed to provide care for pregnant and laboring women through March 31, but cannot commit further without hiring a new, permanent obstetric provider, which they are finding difficult to do.

The need of obstetric care in Los Alamos County is obvious, particularly as Los Alamos National Laboratory ramps up hiring, and many will be families in their childbearing years. Other small communities have stable and thriving Labor and Delivery units. Can Los Alamos Medical Center create a vision for, and prioritize, their obstetric services in a way that provides the obstetric coverage that families have stated is their preference? The community is relying on them to do so.

Los Alamos Medical Center is a for-profit hospital owned by LifePoint Health, Inc, based in Tennessee.

Ten Moons Collective is a group of women working with and advocating for birthing and newly parenting families. Neither Ten Moons Collective nor its members have or will receive compensation for the administration of the survey, or compilation and publication of the results. To learn more about Ten Moons Collective, please go to tenmooncollective.com.

This page was last modified on 28 December 2019.