In its 2022 report , March of Dimes calls Fillmore County a maternity care desert, defined as having zero hospitals or birth centers offering obstetric (OB) care and zero OB/GYN physicians or certified nurse midwives based in the county. This lack of close-to-home maternity care impacts hundreds of Fillmore County families each year — in 2020, 222 infants were born to county residents. A majority of those babies (57.1%) were delivered in Olmsted County, with only 44 recorded home births in Fillmore County that year.
“I think the maternity care desert thing is only going to get worse and worse, and it very much plays into our maternal mortality rates, unfortunately,” said Katie Duerr, a certified nurse midwife at Winona Health in Winona. “It’s scary.”
Telehealth (as well as easier access to insurance coverage beyond borders) is offered as part of the solution…
For health care providers in Minnesota, telemedicine can help reduce the frequency of in-person visits without compromising care for pregnant patients. At Mayo Clinic, Butler Tobah is the research program leader for OB Nest , a telemedicine model for low-risk pregnancies. OB Nest shifts about half of a pregnant patient’s visits to virtual ones, and providers show patients how to use self-monitoring devices, such as fetal heart rate Dopplers, to monitor their pregnancies from home.