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School & Program Updates

School & Program Updates

Colorado’s Center for Global Health Opens Birthing Center in Rural Guatemala

The Colorado School of Public Health’s Center for Global Health announced the opening of its birth center at the Trifinio Center for Human Development in Guatemala. The new center pairs traditional birth attendants with nurses trained as skilled birth attendants so deliveries can be shifted from the home to the birth center, and if needed the local hospital. Further, the center provides a strong setting for multidisciplinary teams to evaluate maternal and child health interventions.

Midwives, OB/GYNs, and pediatricians from Children’s Colorado and the University of Colorado School of Medicine, have been training traditional birth attendants and community nurses in midwifery both in person and via tele-health using the World Health Organization’s safe delivery checklist, as well as the American Academy of Pediatrics’ Helping Babies Breathe® program and Laerdal’s MamaNatalie® birthing simulator to simulate both normal births and births with complications.

“Prior to opening the center, in 2012, more than 50 percent of women reported giving birth at home with the help of a traditional birth attendant. As a result, these communities had extremely high rates of maternal morbidity and neonatal mortality,” said Dr. Gretchen Heinrichs, director of maternal health programs at the Center for Global Health. “With the opening of the birth center in Trifinio, we hope to quickly improve the training of traditional birth attendants who were mostly self-taught and had little outside evaluation of their skills.” An additional innovation of the center pairs nurses, who this year have received additional training in birth from a nurse midwives, with the traditional birth attendants, allowing for a safer family centered experience.

In consultation with both local community leaders and traditional birth attendants, the birth center was designed as a safe space for deliveries where family members and traditional birth attendants are welcome. Contrary to deliveries in the local hospital where women often stay alone and remain in bed, women at the new birth center are encouraged to have family members present to support them and are free to walk and deliver in the position that is most comfortable to them. In addition, the center uses evidence-based practice to avoid potentially harmful and unnecessary interventions such as routine episiotomy.

The Trifinio Center for Human Development is the result of a public-private partnership between the Jose Fernando Bolaños Foundation, the family that owns the banana and palm oil plantations in Trifinio, the University of Colorado and Children’s Hospital Colorado. The clinic and birth center are the first permanent medical facilities in a developing country for both Children’s Hospital Colorado and the University of Colorado. The goal of this partnership is to improve the lives of the children and families of the plantation employees and people living in the surrounding communities, which suffer from high rates of maternal illiteracy, food insecurity, maternal pregnancy complications and depression, child malnutrition and child developmental delay.

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