The Frontier community is proud to have students and alumni serving on the frontlines of the COVID-19 pandemic. Throughout the next few weeks, we are committed to sharing their stories in order to provide insight, hope and encouragement. Thank you to all the health care workers who are risking their own well-being daily to serve our nation. Click here to read more stories of courage and dedication.
With the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic, Jennifer Scott, CNM, Class 75, realized that she needed to take additional steps to keep her patients safe. We recently shared a spotlight story on Jennifer, whose patient base is largely from a local Mennonite community in the Finger Lakes region of central New York. As the pandemic rose in severity, Jennifer temporarily closed her clinic and began seeing patients in their homes.
“We have temporarily closed our clinic,” Jennifer said, noting that she’s unable to do telehealth visits because her patients don’t have computers or cell phones.
“We are doing home visits because it is easier to isolate and wipe down our equipment between homes. This also keeps our clients from congregating in the waiting room. Many women will make appointments on the same day and share a ride. We are also only seeing clients who are higher risk or near term. For example, we’ve spaced our four-week visits out to five weeks and are doing more phone calls.”
Jennifer is from the Finger Lakes region and, after working as a full-scope midwife in a community hospital for seven years, she joined other colleagues to open Community Midwives in 2019. She has retained admitting privileges at the hospital, though the Mennonite community prefers home births.
“The reasons are multifaceted,” Jennifer said, noting that she and her fellow nurse-midwife at Community Midwives attend six to 10 births per month in the community of approximately 600 families.
“Many are farmers, have large families and don’t drive cars. In order to have a hospital birth they would need someone to take care of the farm, watch the children and would have to hire a driver to take them to the hospital in labor, possibly in the middle of the night. The closest maternity hospital is 30 to 45 minutes by car. Some are put off by hospital costs and length of stay. Others like the comfort of their own home. They feel safer emotionally to give birth in their own surroundings.”
Making her patients feel safe has become an additional challenge amid the COVID-19 pandemic. While the pandemic impacts this somewhat isolated community differently than other parts of the country, the fears are the same. The closing of schools and churches has limited primary sources of socialization, entertainment and information. Because the Mennonite community does not watch TV or listen to music, Jennifer shares news about the pandemic with the families she serves, printing off the latest information from the county and state health departments.
“Like everyone, they are worried for their families, stressed by the social restrictions and having to homeschool their children,” Jennifer said.
“The Mennonite community is very self reliant. They have stocks of canned and frozen produce from their own gardens and bake their own bread. They have fresh eggs and milk also. They may only go once a month to Walmart for other supplies so they are not as exposed to as many crowds.”
Jennifer, whose husband is also battling the COVID-19 pandemic as a physician in a local hospital, said she hopes the pandemic inspires others to choose nursing and medicine, just as she was inspired by her experiences as a Frontier Nursing University (FNU) student.
“FNU taught me to grab my saddlebag, get on my horse and ride up that mountain,” Jennifer said.
“It taught me that my calling is to care for the underserved, the vulnerable families, without hesitation. I’ve always believed the education at FNU has prepared me for anything I encounter in the workplace. I remember Kitty Ernst giving a talk at Frontier Bound that I paraphrased as ‘We only educate the strongest, most resilient nurses’.”
Like so many other FNU graduates leading the fight against the pandemic, Scott demonstrates that strength and resiliency every day.
What is a Certified Nurse-Midwife (CNM)?
Certified Nurse-Midwives (CNMs) are educated in two disciplines: midwifery and nursing. They earn graduate degrees, complete a midwifery education program accredited by the Accreditation Commission for Midwifery Education (ACME), and pass a national certification examination administered by the American Midwifery Certification Board (AMCB) to receive the professional designation of CNM. Certified Midwives (CMs) are educated in the discipline of midwifery. They earn graduate degrees, meet health and science education requirements, complete a midwifery education program accredited by ACME, and pass the same national certification examination as CNMs to receive the professional designation of CM.