MIAMI, FL (August 14, 2008) – Florida Friends of Midwives (FFOM), a non-profit grassroots organization dedicated to promoting and supporting the practice of midwifery in Florida is disappointed and concerned with the indefinite closure of Miami Dade College's Midwifery Program, a vital program to the local community and to communities statewide. Despite strong opposition expressed by students, mothers, midwives and concerned members of the community, the College cited tough economic times as the reason for their decision.
On Friday August 8, 2008, the College held a meeting at the Medical Campus to formally announce the closure of the program and return prepaid tuition to currently enrolled students. At that meeting, members of the public showed up to express their disappointment and dissatisfaction with the closure of the program. The College claims tough economic times have caused them to close programs with low enrollment and high costs. However, Midwifery is the first and only one out of over 200 degree-granting programs offered at Miami-Dade College to be eliminated as a result of those cuts.
Students, who had already completed all course requirements to be admitted into the program, were devastated. Some students had relocated to South Florida, and many had already taken out loans to cover tuition costs. "Miami Dade College doesn't understand that we didn't choose to be in this career program just to have any degree – this is our passion," said Melissa Chin Casey, who was set to start the Midwifery Program in the Fall 2008 semester. "It's insulting and cruel for the administrators to say the program was cut because of low enrollment, when we are practically beating down the door for them to let us in. As a public education institution, they have failed this community."
MDC's accredited Direct-Entry Midwifery Program was the first in the country to be offered at a public institution, offering students a more affordable option compared to the programs offered at private colleges and universities. Since it's inception in 1994, over 80 midwives have been trained and graduated the program.
"This community has endured a great loss with the closing of this program," said Tamara Taitt, president for Florida Friends of Midwives. "Many of the women who have graduated from this program have become indispensable to our community by providing quality and personalized pre- and post-natal care."
Obstetrical care in South Florida has come under scrutiny in recent years as the rate of caesarean sections in the state of Florida has increased to an all-time high of 36.6% in 2006 which is well above the World Health Organization and Healthy People 2010's recommendations of 15%. Specifically, Palm Beach County had a cesarean section rate of 39.3%, Broward was 41.2%, and Miami-Dade was 45.5%. According to the Florida Council of Licensed Midwives, Florida Licensed Midwives had a cesarean section rate of 6.3% in 2006. There is also expected to be a significant shortage of Obstetricians in the tri-county area within the next three years.
Miami Dade College is a public institution and has an obligation to the public it serves. FFOM believes it is unjust to close a program that is crucial on a number of levels. To take away this program is to take away one of the only affordable opportunities in this country for women to become Licensed Midwives through an accredited program.
FFOM urges the College to reconsider the closure of the Midwifery Program and also ask for continued support from the community in our efforts to keep this program open.
About Florida Friends of Midwives
Florida Friends of Midwives 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. For more information, please visit www.flmidwifery.org.