As a family physician who considers Santa Barbara County home, I read with sadness the recent stories about Dr. Melissa Drake and the birth community in Santa Barbara County.
This community has many names that includes mothers and babies, their families, OB-GYNS, NPs, PAs, nurses, hospitals, birth centers and home birth. One member of this community that I did not see mentioned in any of the articles or comments related to Dr. Drake and the crisis in maternity care in Santa Barbara is Family Physicians.
Family doctors, like me, are trained in maternity care including birth. In other communities across California and the nation, family doctors deliver babies and are involved in maternity care. In fact, just down the road in Ventura, Family Doctors deliver babies. Goleta Valley Hospital was renowned for having a history of family medicine-centered birth before the birth center there was closed down decades ago.
All of the medical professionals who have been on the front lines of providing care to patients throughout this devastating COVID pandemic deserve praise and support now, when burn out is so high and exhaustion is everywhere. Thank you to all of you.
Now more than ever is a time to consider the importance of collaborative birth community practice models with, for example, family doctors and midwives joining teams for maternity care with OB-Gyns. Part of the solution to any crisis in maternity care in California should include family medicine.
There is a ton of academic literature exploring why family doctors are excluded from maternity care and why including family doctors in maternity care is beneficial. Now could be a good time to review the data and literature and consider more collaborative models of care for the future.
Noemi Doohan, MD, PhD, MPH, is a board-certified family physician.