Virtua Health Opens Camden Midwifery Practice

New practice dedicated to improving maternal health outcomes
through greater access to care

April 18, 2022 - Allessandra Lamar, 32, of Woodlynne, N.J., was 33 weeks pregnant when she went to her scheduled prenatal appointment only to discover that she had been switched to a different obstetrician without notice. Allessandra, about to become a mother for the second time, was not comfortable with the change and decided to schedule an appointment at the newly opened Virtua Midwifery – Camden.

“Finding this practice was literally a God-send for me,” said Allessandra. “I was stressed and nervous, and after meeting with Sheila and Dorothy, I felt relieved and comfortable.”

“We discussed my birth plan, and they answered all of my questions—they really listened to me, and I completely trusted them,” she explained. It’s so important to feel safe and heard when you are pregnant, and that’s how they made me feel.”

Weeks later, Allessandra gave birth to a healthy baby boy, Andre, and is now receiving her post-partum care and checkups at the practice. She believes that seeking care at Virtua Midwifery – Camden was the best decision for her and her baby.

Meeting the Need:
Most people would be shocked to discover that the United States is the only developed country in the world with a rising maternal mortality rate. In fact, this topic made national news last week during National Black Maternal Health Awareness Week and was described as a “national embarrassment” by Dr. Jen Ashton, chief medical correspondent on Good Morning America and ABC News . Virtua Health, a health system synonymous with maternity services, is committed to improving maternal health outcomes, and recently opened the Virtua Midwifery – Camden practice at 1000 Atlantic Avenue to support women in Camden City and the surrounding communities.

Virtua Midwifery – Camden is a midwife-led practice offering personalized pregnancy care (with births occurring at Virtua Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital) and reproductive wellness care for all stages of life. Patients have access to screenings for cervical and breast cancer, testing and treatment for sexually transmitted infections, contraceptive counseling and management, menopausal symptom management, gender-affirming care, lactation counseling, and referrals to specialists for emotional health services, social services, nutrition, endocrinology, cardiology, and gynecological oncology, as needed.

Two certified nurse midwives staff the practice: Sheila Kaufman, CNM, and Dorothy Cam, CNM.

Advancing Health Equality:
The midwifery model of care promotes the establishment of trusted relationships between patients and midwives, which studies demonstrate benefit the overall health and wellbeing of patients. The practice is a welcome addition for city residents who often struggle to access appropriate and convenient medical services.

Language is a barrier to care for some people in Camden. According to census data published in 2021, half of Camden City residents identify as Hispanic or Latino, and Spanish is the primary language in many households. Fortunately, both Sheila Kaufman and Dorothy Cam are fluent in Spanish.

The aforementioned census data also shows that 42.5 percent of Camden City residents identify as Black or African American alone. Statistics show that, nationally, Black women are three times more likely to die from a pregnancy-related cause than white women. Such disparity is what prompted the Black Mamas Matter Alliance to recognize Black Maternal Health Week. April 11 to 17, 2022, marked its fifth anniversary.

“Advancing health equity requires action,” said Nicole Lamborne, MD, Virtua’s vice president of clinical operations for women’s health. “Step one toward improving outcomes is improving access to care. By opening a midwifery practice in the heart of Camden, we aim to provide women with a personalized partner in care who will guide them through various chapters of life, including – but not limited to – welcoming a child.”