Success Story: Ashley Regional Medical Center

Amanda De Lucia News, Rural Hospital, State Office of Rural Health, Success Stories

Danette Foster is a Certified Nurse Midwife at Ashley Regional Medical Center, Women’s Health, in Vernal, Utah.

Danette describes some of her daily duties to help us understand life in a rural community as the only Certified Nurse Midwife in the area.

As a Certified Nurse Midwife, Danette works in a clinic 4 days week and sees patients with all manner of women’s health-related concerns. Her days consist of:

  • Annual well woman’s exam, Pap tests, STI testing, contraceptive counseling and management, prenatal visits, early prenatal dating Ultrasound, IUD and Nexplanon placements and removals, endometrial biopsy, pelvic pain, PCOS, abnormal uterine bleeding, menopause, mental health including depression and anxiety (including during pregnancy), breast cancer screening, annual exams with health maintenance guidance, and infertility counseling and treatment.
  • Follow-up visits are also very common with many of these patients. She evaluates patients for surgery, recommends treatment or surgery, and does surgical follow-up visits. She also reviews all labs and imaging and contacts patients regarding their results and appropriate follow-up.
  • Expanded services include hospital admission for labor and delivery of baby, labor triage, and first assist in cesarean sections. She manages laboring patients including interpretation of fetal heart tracing, lab results, labor progression and works with the interdisciplinary team to achieve the best outcome possible for the patient. She refers patients to the appropriate provider for specialized care when necessary.
  • She is on call for our clinic and rotates with two other providers.

Danette says spending time listening to patients and hearing them has enabled her to be able to address issues with them that helped them get answers, start treatments or find resolutions to their concerns. Below are some of main concerns she gets in her duties.

  • She has seen many diagnoses of PCOS and has been able to follow several patients on the infertility journey to be able to conceive and have a healthy baby.
  •  She has addressed anxiety and depression in all ages within her scope and has been able to help many women feel better about themselves and have hope that things would get better. She has been able to counsel many on contraception and helped them find the right contraceptive.
  • She has delivered over 50 babies since starting here and helping couples through the miracle of pregnancy and birth is amazing every time.
  • One patient was diagnosed with depression and treated during her pregnancy. After her pregnancy, she came to Danette and said, “You saved my life. I have never felt so happy. If it weren’t for you, I don’t know where I would be.”
  • Another was diagnosed with PCOS and thought she would never be able to have children. After 6 months of treatment, she was able to conceive and has a healthy baby.
  • Another came in for a surgery consult for incontinence and Danette referred her to pelvic floor physical therapy, which she was able to complete and correct her incontinence.

These are just a few examples of how Danette has helped women in this community. There are many others that come from far away because they want to see a midwife. Others come because they want a female provider.

Over time, word has spread about a Certified Nurse Midwife in the Tri-County area. More awareness about the differences between a Certified Nurse Midwife and a lay midwife would be helpful. At this time, Utah recognizes four different kinds of midwives.

There are many in the community who were hesitant to come to see a CNM because they misunderstood the scope of practice, so she brings awareness that she is a health nurse practitioner and a midwife that delivers babies. She deliver babies in the hospital setting.

On a more personal level, due to relocating during the pandemic, it was hard for Danette to meet people in the beginning. Now, her clinic schedule is near full most days. Her husband is able to work from home.  She has one son still at home and he likes the computer science options at the high school.