Miami Dade Students Protest Closing of Midwifery Program

August 23, 2008

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IN LIGHT OF UNFAIR TREATMENT, MIAMI DADE COLLEGE STUDENTS & SUPPORTERS PLAN SIT IN

MIAMI, FL (August 22, 2008) – Despite strong opposition expressed by students, mothers, midwives and concerned members of the community, Miami Dade College has closed the Midwifery Program. Students have called and written the College President, Dr. Eduaro Padron to request reconsideration and a meeting with the College Board of Trustees yet Dr. Padron has refused to meet with them.

The students are now planning a Rally to Save the Midwifery Program on Monday August 25th at 10:00a.m. The rally will be held at the office of the President on the MDC Wolfson Campus, 300 N.E. 2nd Ave, Suite 1401 on the fourth floor of Building #1 Miami, FL 33132.

The Miami Dade College Midwifery Students and their supporters will descend on the Wolfson Campus to demand a meeting and reconsideration for the program. We urge concerned members of the community to join us.

The Closing of the Program

On Friday, August 8, the College held a meeting to reimburse the 20 students who had paid for tuition and fees, and to discuss other educational opportunities that the College offers. At that meeting, members of the public showed up to express their disappointment and dissatisfaction, not only with the closure of the program, but also with the unfair treatment of the students, who were required to pay all tuition and fees a month prior to the rest of the student body.

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. Also, the cut took place even though Miami Dade College has reported higher than expected overall enrollment rates for the Fall.

Midwifery students, who had been accepted in May were devastated by the sudden cancellation of the program. Some students had relocated to South Florida, and many had already taken out loans to cover tuition costs. “Miami Dade College doesn’t seem to appreciate the important roll midwives play. We fill an important need by providing an affordable and accessible health care to at risk communities. As a public education institution, they have failed this community. I am outraged that Dr. Padron won’t even address our concerns,” said Melissa Chin Casesy, midwifery student.

MDC’s accredited Direct-Entry Midwifery Program, one out of only 10 in the country, was the first and only to be offered at a public institution, offering students a more affordable option compared to the programs offered at private colleges and universities. For example, completing the program at MDC would cost about $10,000 while at other schools, it would be upwards of $20,000. Since it’s inception in 1994, over 80 midwives have been trained and graduated from the program.

“With MDC’s program gone, the future health-care demands of our already under-served community can’t be met. How will midwives be licensed without this accredited program?,” said Jarene Flemming, a midwifery consumer and advocate. “With the alarming rate of infant mortality and the growing racial health disparities in South Florida, it is foolish to eliminate the one program best suited to train more health professionals to address this crisis.”

Midwifery in Florida
According to the latest Florida Medical Quality Assurance annual report, there are 115 active licensed midwives practicing in the state. About 11 percent of births are estimated to be attended by midwives, rather than by obstetrician/gynecologists, and the Florida Council of Licensed Midwives reported that births attended by Licensed Midwives in the state grew by 5.5% from 2005 to 2006. According to the same report by the Florida Council of Licensed Midwives, midwives had a cesarean section rate of 6.3 percent (compared to a 36.64 percent statewide average in hospitals the same year).

Miami Dade College is a public institution and has an obligation to the public it serves. 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.
Media Contact: Jarene Williams 305.609.8502 or Melissa Casey 305.305.6927

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