By Kim Breyley
The first baby of 2019 in Geauga County was born in Middlefield! That’s right, a precious little boy named John Allen Kurtz III was welcomed into this world at 2:09 a.m. on Jan. 1, 2019 at the Middlefield Care Center (MCC), Lenny Drive.
The MCC has been in existence since 1987, serving their first Amish patient in 1990. It was created as a 501 (c) (3) nonprofit organization and is run by eight Amish community leaders. This past Jan. 23, alumni from Leadership Geauga County toured the facility guided by Jaime Fisher, RN and MCC administrator. Also, available for questions was one of the founding board members, George Pogan.
Pogan explained that it was the late Dr. Al Evans who saw a need in our Amish community for affordable, safe, and basic health care for expectant Amish moms, as well as opportunity to provide prenatal guidance for these families.
Dr. Evans and Jonas Yoder approached Pogan for his expertise who, at the time, was executive director of the Chagrin Valley Medical Center.
“After about 18 months,” said Pogan, “we had rallied a critical mass of support, raised more than $100,000 and secured a loan from the Geauga Savings Bank. Our initial needs were about $400,000.”
“The Middlefield Care Center is built to the highest-quality hospital standards,” he adds. “It is 7,600 square feet and a very safe environment.” The Center offers five birthing suites, and new moms can stay up to three days at the same cost, approximately $2,500.
“We have a full staff including midwives and physicians, said Pogan. “We offer an entire panel of State-required tests and our staff partner with the DDC clinic by offering an additional panel for the known 122 genetic disorders prevalent in this area at no additional charge.”
“We are offering these services on a very low-key level,” he says, “because our only objective is to help our large Amish families have healthy babies.”
“We care for about 40-50 percent of the Amish and they come from surrounding counties, as well,” shares Fisher. The MCC state-issued certificate allows patients from only the Old Order Amish.
It is important for expectant moms to come in early in the pregnancy, so that if there are any indicators for high risk, it might be converted to low risk or they will be referred to a standard hospital system. Fisher encourages patients to seek prenatal care prior to 20 weeks of pregnancy. The Care Center is not equipped to handle high risk births explained Fisher.
The most common conditions are high blood pressure and gestational diabetes and both can be managed well when discovered early in the pregnancy. “We don’t have to transfer out very many,” says Pogan. “Patient safety is top priority and recently with Jamie’s leadership,” he adds, “we were able to initiate a home-care program. A grant was secured through the Baker Foundation administered by the Cleveland Foundation to help defer the cost so now every baby that is born here receives a home visit and a home assessment after they leave the MCC. That way, if the nurses or midwives see a problem, they can communicate directly with the doctor.”
The main difference between the MCC and a standard hospital is the ability to administer an anesthetic to patient, Fisher stated. A physician will augment labor if necessary and they will circumcise baby boys if requested.
Amish moms are offered two very different types of in-center treatment settings. One, having a OBGYN deliver the child in a delivery-type setting and the other in a more home-like area where the baby and mother are attended to by a mid-wife.
Fisher reported 76 boys and 76 girls equaling 152 births for 2018. Remarkable!