Sole nurse midwife in rural Utah provides care close to home

Danette Foster, like many healthcare providers, has felt the burden of student loan debt. 

“I went to school in my late 40s, so I also have to think of retirement,” Foster said. “This grant [Health Care Workforce Financial Assistance Program] has allowed me to pay off a substantial amount of my debt so that I can focus on my practice and my future retirement.” 

– Danette Foster

Foster is the only certified nurse midwife in the tri-county area, a 2.5-hour drive from the metropolitan area of Salt Lake City. Without her services, prenatal, delivery, and postpartum care would require lengthy travel for area residents. 

The rural area where Foster works and most of the state of Utah exemplify our nation’s rural maternity care crisis. There are not enough obstetricians, gynecologists, and certified nurse midwives to meet pressing reproductive healthcare needs in rural communities, putting families at risk for negative birth outcomes, including maternal, fetal, and infant death. 

Foster works to support her patients and minimize risk. One of Foster’s patients traveled 2 hours for a consultation with a midwife who was willing to provide home-birth services. The patient was due in the middle of winter, and weather-related risks posed a grave concern. 

Foster reached out to the patient to check in and to encourage her to stay local for the delivery. This brief phone call resulted in the patient resuming her prenatal visits with Foster and choosing a “beautiful delivery in the hospital.” The woman expressed that Foster acted as a “mothering type of midwife,” and her deep commitment to the well-being of mother and baby was evident. 

Danette Foster is a certified nurse midwife at Ashley Regional Women’s Health Services and a recipient of the Health Care Workforce Financial Assistance Program. 
Ashley Regional Medical Center is a 39-bed acute care Joint Commission-accredited facility located in the heart of Dinosaur Land, in Vernal, Utah. The 3-story Women’s Center and Infusion Center were recently completed in 2018 and 2019, respectively. The Women’s Center at Ashley Regional offers comprehensive services for every generation of your family.