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Midwives, doctors unite to form women’s health center

MIDDLEBURY — Some of Porter Medical Center’s busiest providers briefly put down their stethoscopes and high-tech medical equipment on Thursday to collectively wield an over-sized pair of prop scissors. They used it to metaphorically cut the ribbon for the opening of Porter Women’s Health, which combines the talents of providers who previously worked out of Tapestry Midwifery & Women’s Health and Addison Associates in OB/GYN.
The practice is located in the Addison Associates headquarters in the physicians’ office building next to the Emergency Department on the Porter campus in Middlebury. That space has been expanded to accommodate personnel from Tapestry, which had been operating at 20 Armory Lane in Vergennes.
Headlining Porter Women’s Health are Certified Nurse-Midwives Heather Kidde and Maggie Gardner (formerly of Tapestry) and Drs. Anna Benvenuto, Jodi Brown and Kate Wagner of Addison Associates.
Porter spokesman Ron Hallman said it made sense to consolidate the two practices to provide one-stop shopping for women’s health services. Porter Women’s Health, which formally opened on Monday, May 2, offers pregnancy, childbirth, obstetrical care and comprehensive prenatal care. Clients also have access to well-woman care, preventive screening, contraceptive management, infertility evaluation and treatment, and many other services.
“We’re trying to create a center for excellence for women’s care,” Hallman said. “A centralized, collaborative environment where women can come and have a whole range of services provided by different types of providers and really offer a very comprehensive array of patient-centered care.”
Hallman acknowledged that Vergennes-area Tapestry clients now face a longer trip to visit their caregivers. But he believes patients will consider the service worthy of the extra mileage.
“That is something that we thought about and talked about,” Hallman said of the Tapestry move. “We are hoping that it’s not too inconvenient for the folks in the northern part of our service area to come here. I think the service benefits and the collaboration, hopefully, will outweigh the additional travel.”
Kidde said while Vergennes-area residents have a longer ways to travel, they will be able to more easily tap into other health care services at Porter Medical Center.
“It is nice that everything is under one roof now,” Kidde said. “Our patients from Vergennes would come (to Middlebury) for ultrasounds or different procedures. Now they see us and can get their specialty care as well, which is a really nice thing.”
Collaboration is nothing new for the former Tapestry and Addison Associates in OB/GYN staffs.
“It’s something we have been talking about for a while,” Benvenuto said. “I think this group of providers has been the right match for us to all come together. It’s also a really great time for us to provide a little more life balance, by sharing call and collaborating more.”
She added more providers means more people to share responsibilities, such as being on-call after office hours.
“It builds on our strength as a group in having a diversity of backgrounds within each professional type,” Benvenuto said. “Each of us brings something different to the table, in terms of our skill-set and our interests. It allows the best care for women in our community by having a group that works on a highly functioning level.”
Benvenuto said Addison County can be very proud of the local services and care available to expectant and new mothers. She pointed to statistics showing:
•  Porter last year had the lowest caesarean delivery rate in the state of Vermont, at 16.7 percent. The national average is 32.2 percent. Of those caesarean deliveries, 9.7 percent were primary caesarean deliveries and only 2.4 percent were for failure to progress.
•  Porter had the second-highest rate of attempting vaginal birth after caesarean in the state, and all of women who chose that option were successful.
•  Porter is one of only two hospitals statewide that has an increasing birth rate. There were 374 births at Porter last year, a number that has been on the rise in recent years.
Clients have been pleased with outcomes, to the extent they have become loyal customers — some of them traveling from Chittenden and Rutland counties, as well as upstate New York.
“We are really proud of the care we provide and how we provide it, and I think the numbers are really positive,” Benvenuto said.
Reporter John Flowers is at johnf@addisonindependent.com.

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