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Health--it's what we all have in common: whether we're trying to maintain our health through good habits or improve our failing health. "Bridges to Health" is 90.5 WESA's health care reporting initiative examining everything from unintended consequences of the Affordable Care Act to transparency in health care costs; from a lack of access to quality care for minority members of our society to confronting the opioid crisis in our region. It's about our individual health and the well-being of our community.Health care coverage on 90.5 WESA is made possible in part by a grant from the Jewish Healthcare Foundation.

No Due Date Yet, But The Midwife Center’s Expansion Is Underway

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Liz Reid
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90.5 WESA

In addition to bringing a baby into the world, many of The Midwife Center’s birth stories share a common anecdote – one of the mother-to-be going in and out of the building while their partner or family member searches for parking. 

Prospective parents will no longer frantically search Penn Avenue for a place to park once The Midwife Center’s new expansion, including a parking lot, opens early next year.

“I think our clients will be very excited about that,” said Executive Director Christine Haas.

Crews broke ground on a $3.5 million expansion in July, two years after The Midwife Center first announced it would double its capacity.

As the only free-standing birth center in western Pennsylvania, Haas said the facility has operated at full capacity for years.

“Unfortunately we’ve had to put some women on a wait list,” she said. “Most of the time we’ve been able to eventually bring women into our practice for care … but we really do want to avoid that if at all possible so women can come in and start care as soon as they find out they’re pregnant.”

The foundation has been laid and scaffolding erected around the footprint of the new space, which will include two new birthing suites and a dedicated classroom, as well as an outdoor courtyard.

Haas said the space will allow The Midwife Center to not only serve more women, but also to expand its educational offerings and add support groups.

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Credit Courtesy The Midwife Center
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The ocean-themed birthing suite at The Midwife Center. TMC solicited suggestions for themes for the two new suites via social media, and Haas said they will be announced in the coming weeks. Among the suggestions: constellations, mountains, sunrise and butterflies.

“In addition to providing pregnancy, birthing and primary gynecological care, we’re looking to add more services like behavioral health,” she said. “We’re also going to be able to do blood draws in house so people don’t have to go elsewhere to get required bloodwork.”

While the vast majority of births still take place in hospitals, the number of women choosing birth centers increased 56 percent between 2007 and 2013, according to the American Association of Birth Centers. Haas said the pace of growth has likely only increased since then.

While construction is underway, the capital campaign to complete the project is not over. Haas said The Midwife Center will announce opportunities for brick engraving for the new walkway in the next few weeks, as well as hard hat tours and other special fundraising events.

She couldn’t say exactly when in 2017 the expanded space will open, but she said she expects it to be in the first half of the year, which means women who get pregnant this fall may be among the first to give birth in the new suites. 

Health care coverage on 90.5 WESA is made possible in part by a grant from the Jewish Healthcare Foundation.