Friday, July 31, 2009

Sarasota to Host Maternal Health Care Panel

Sarasota, FL (July 31, 2009) -- On November 1, 2009, Sarasota will host a discussion entitled 'Maternal Health Care in the 21st Century: Sarasota and Beyond.' The program will feature a distinguished panel of internationally recognized speakers. The Sarasota-Manatee Chapter of the National Organization for Women (NOW) is sponsoring the event, along with co-sponsors Florida Friends of Midwives and the Sarasota Commission on the Status of Women. The discussion will take place at the Hyatt Regency Sarasota. The public is welcome to attend at no cost.

The panelists for this discussion are:
--Dr. Washington Hill, MD, FACOG, Labor and Delivery Medical Director and Maternal-Fetal Medicine Director at Sarasota Memorial Hospital;
--Ina May Gaskin, MA, CPM, Founder and Director of The Farm Midwifery Center;
--Jennifer Highland, MPH, Executive Director of the Healthy Start Coalition of Sarasota County; and
--Rep. Keith Fitzgerald, PhD, Florida House of Representatives, District 69.

The discussion will be moderated by Kelly Kirschner, Sarasota City Commissioner and Vice Mayor, and will last approximately an hour and a half. Time will be allotted for audience questions and answers as well as refreshments following the program.

This panel will review current trends in maternity care in Sarasota within the context of the U.S. and the world and target paths to improving maternity care locally and nationwide. Topics for discussion include:

* maternal mortality,
* obstetric intervention rates and risks,
* legislation,
* legal reform and malpractice concerns,
* community education and awareness,
* the midwifery model of care,
* informed consent and refusal,
* the availability of prenatal and postpartum care (including education, counseling, and doulas), and
* the upcoming expansion of Sarasota Memorial Hospital to include new labor and delivery rooms.

Hosting a panel discussion about maternal health care issues was the brainchild of Sonia Pressman Fuentes, co-founder of the National Organization for Women (NOW). “After spending a lifetime improving the legal status of women and fighting gender discrimination in the US and the world, it is exciting for me to be involved in a field new to me, that of improving maternal health care options for women in Sarasota, the US, and the world,” says Fuentes. Joining her in planning the event is Laura Gilkey, local childbirth advocate and board member of Florida Friends of Midwives. "With a panel representative of obstetrics, midwifery, legislature, and public health, perhaps Sarasota can begin a conversation that will pave the way toward becoming a national model of community healthcare reform through improved maternity care," says Gilkey.
About the National Organization for Women (NOW): The National Organization for Women (NOW) is the largest organization of feminist activists in the United States. NOW has 500,000 contributing members and 550 chapters in all 50 states and the District of Columbia. Since its founding in 1966, NOW's goal has been to take action to bring about equality for all women. NOW works to eliminate discrimination and harassment in the workplace, schools, the justice system, and all other sectors of society; secure reproductive rights for all women; end all forms of violence against women; eradicate racism, sexism and homophobia; and promote equality and justice in our society. The Sarasota-Manatee Chapter of NOW meets on the third Thursday of each month at the Selby Public Library. For more information on the Sarasota-Manatee chapter of NOW, please visit

About Florida Friends of Midwives (FFOM)
: Florida Friends of Midwives (FFOM) is a non-profit grassroots organization dedicated to promoting the Midwives Model of Care and supporting the practice of midwifery in Florida. Florida Friends of Midwives was formed to support midwives who offer safe, cost-effective, evidence based care to Florida's Families. FFOM members are consumers and birth advocates with a common goal: to preserve the legal protection afforded to Florida's midwives and birth centers. They are committed to organizing the community to support midwives and to assure the continued availability of midwifery care in the State of Florida. For more information, please visit

About the Sarasota Commission on the Status of Women (SCSW)
: The Sarasota Commission on the Status of Women (SCSW) was established in 1987 and became an independent nonprofit organization in 2007 to empower Sarasota County's women through education, research and advocacy. Their overview is Women and Violence and they work through committees on Domestic Violence, Women and Housing, Women and Homelessness, Sexual Content in the Media, Human Trafficking, Women and Politics. Their focus is local and they encourage the enhancement of the status of Sarasota's women through public policy changes by local, state, and national governmental entities by partnering with other organizations with similar goals. For more information, please visit


Dr. Washington Hill, M.D., FACOG
Labor and Delivery Medical Director / Maternal-Fetal Medicine Director, Sarasota Memorial Hospital
B.A., Rutgers University, College of South Jersey, Camden, New Jersey, 1961
M.D., Temple University School of Medicine, 1965
Obstetrics and Gynecology Residency, William Beaumont General Hospital, 1970
Post Graduate, Maternal-Fetal Medicine Fellowship, University of California, San Francisco, 1984
Board Certification, American Board of Obstetrics and Gynecology with Special Competence in Maternal-Fetal Medicine, 1989 with Recertification 1978, 1993 and 1998

Dr. Hill is the Past President of the Medical Staff and Chairman of the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology at Sarasota Memorial Hospital, Sarasota, Florida. He is currently Director of Maternal-Fetal Medicine. He is also Clinical Professor Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology at University South Florida College of Medicine, Tampa, Florida and Clinical Professor Department of Clinical Sciences OB/GYN Clerkship Director-Sarasota Campus Florida State University College of Medicine, Tallahassee, Florida. Following completion of his fellowship in Maternal-Fetal Medicine, he has practiced this subspecialty for over 20 years first at the Sutter Perinatal Center and the University of California-Davis School of Medicine, Sacramento, California; and then at Creighton University, School of Medicine, Omaha, Nebraska; Meharry Medical College; and Vanderbilt University School of Medicine, Nashville, Tennessee. He served as Chairman of the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology at Meharry Medical College, School of Medicine, until 1992, when he took his current position as Director of Maternal-Fetal Medicine and the Perinatal Center of Sarasota Memorial Hospital in Sarasota, Florida. Dr. Hill is the author of at least 60 articles in refereed journals and the book
Ambulatory Obstetrics.

Ina May Gaskin, M.A., C.P.M.
Founder / Director, The Farm Midwifery Center

State University of Iowa, Iowa City, Iowa, B.A., English, Summa cum laude, Highest honors
Northern Illinois University, DeKalb, Illinois, M.A., English
North American Registry of Midwives
Certified Professional Midwife
Tennessee Licensed Certified Professional Midwife

Ina May Gaskin, MA, CPM, is founder and director of the Farm Midwifery Center, located near Summertown, Tennessee. Founded in 1971, by 1996, the Farm Midwifery Center had handled more than 2200 births, with remarkably good outcomes. Ms. Gaskin herself has attended more than 1200 births. She is author of
Spiritual Midwifery, now in its fourth edition. For twenty-two years she published Birth Gazette, a quarterly covering health care, childbirth and midwifery issues. Her most recent book, Ina May’s Guide to Childbirth was released in 2003. She was President of Midwives' Alliance of North America from 1996 to 2002. The Gaskin maneuver, a low-interventive effective method for dealing with shoulder dystocia, is the first obstetrical procedure to be named for a midwife. Ms. Gaskin’s center is noted for its low rates of intervention, morbidity and mortality. Ms. Gaskin is the originator and coordinator of The Safe Motherhood Quilt Project, a national effort developed to draw public attention to the current U.S. maternal death rates. Her newest book, Ina May's Guide to Breastfeeding, will be released October 1st, 2009.

Jennifer Highland, M.P.H.
Executive Director, Healthy Start Coalition of Sarasota County
University of South Florida, M.P.H. Public Health, 1995

Jennifer’s passion for helping mothers and infants began with the birth of her children. Jennifer's early career was in Louisiana, Georgia and Texas, where she served as a registered nurse. After she moved to Florida and became a mother, Jennifer volunteered for the Breastfeeding Advocates of Sarasota County and completed her Master of Public Health Degree from USF, graduating in 1995. Jennifer was the Project Coordinator for the first and on-going national breastfeeding promotion campaign, “Loving Support Makes Breastfeeding Work,” through her employment with Best Start, Inc., in Tampa. She then became trained as a Childbirth Educator and taught at Sarasota Memorial Hospital. Her work at The Healthy Start Coalition of Sarasota County began in 2001 as the Contract/Quality Manager. Her role expanded to include professional education. In 2006 she became the Executive Director.

Rep. Keith Fitzgerald, Ph.D.
Florida House of Representatives, District 69

University of Louisville, B.A., 1979
Indiana University, Ph.D., 1987

Representative Keith Fitzgerald was elected to represent State House District 69 in 2006, and re-elected in 2008. His district includes the northern part of Sarasota County and a small portion of Manatee County. Representative Fitzgerald has lived in Sarasota and taught political science at New College of Florida since 1994. He and his wife, Angela Baker, have nine-year-old twins. Representative Fitzgerald serves as the Democratic Ranking Member on the Policy Council and as a member of the Finance and Tax Council, Health and Family Services Policy Council, Select Policy Council on Strategic & Economic Planning and the Military and Local Affairs Policy Committee. Representative Fitzgerald also serves as Policy Chair for the House Democratic Caucus. His prior leadership positions include service on the Advisory Council of Faculty Senates, the Board of Trustees at New College of Florida and the Sarasota City Charter Review Board.

MODERATOR: Kelly Kirschner
Sarasota City Commission (District 3 Commissioner / Vice Mayor)

B.S. Foreign Service, Georgetown University
M.A. Latin American Studies, Georgetown University

Kelly is a lifelong Sarasotan. He has served the Sarasota community as President of the Alta Vista Neighborhood Association as well as having been an active member of the Coalition of City Neighborhood Associations. Believing strongly in public service, Kelly has worked for the White House Office of Public Liaison; served as a Peace Corps Volunteer; and led a USAID community conservation project in rural Guatemala. Kelly lives with his wife, Tracy, son, Bodhi, and daughter, Selby, in District 3.

EVENT SPONSOR: Sonia Pressman Fuentes
The Sarasota-Manatee Chapter, National Organization for Women (NOW)

B.A. Cornell University 1950
J.D. University of Miami School of Law 1957

Sonia Pressman Fuentes, who was born in Berlin, Germany, came to the U.S. with her immediate family in 1934 to escape the Holocaust. She was an attorney for the U.S. Department of Justice, the National Labor Relations Board, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) (where she was the first woman attorney in its Office of the General Counsel), and the U.S. Department of Housing & Urban Development in Washington, D.C. and elsewhere. She was a co-founder of NOW, WEAL (the Women’s Equity Action League), and FEW (Federally Employed Women) and a charter member of VFA (Veteran Feminists of America). She was the longest-serving board member in the history of NWP (National Woman’s Party). In 1993, she retired from the federal government, thereafter wrote her memoir,
Eat First—You Don’t Know What They’ll Give You, The Adventures of an Immigrant Family and Their Feminist Daughter, and embarked on new careers as a writer and public speaker. For further information, please visit her website at

Florida Friends of Midwives (FFOM)

B.L.A. Landscape Architecture, University of Florida, 2000

Laura Gilkey serves on the Board of Directors for Florida Friends of Midwives, and is the Florida Coordinating Ambassador for The Birth Survey: The Transparency in Maternity Care Project. Laura is an endorser of The Mother-Friendly Childbirth Initiative and a member of the Coalition for Improving Maternity Care Services. She is a project coordinator and quilter for Ina May Gaskin's Safe Motherhood Quilt Project, intended to raise awareness about American maternal mortality. Laura has recently joined the Planning and Evaluation Committee for the Healthy Start Coalition of Sarasota County, whose mission is to improve the health and well-being of Sarasota's pregnant women, infants, and small children. Professionally, she is the marketing manager for Michael A. Gilkey, Inc., landscape architecture studio, and is the owner of Kangaroo Promotions, Inc., a creative marketing firm in Sarasota. For more information, please visit her website at

1 comment:

  1. How cool that Ina May Gaskin will be in Sarasota! I have this marked on my calendar.