Three W.Va. Delegates receive award from American Association of Birth Centers

PRESS RELEASE:

CHARLESTON, W.Va. – The American Association of Birth Centers recently presented its 2023 AABC Public Advocate Award to West Virginia House of Delegates Health and Human Resources Committee Chair Amy Summers, R-Taylor, Vice Chair Heather Tully, R-Nicholas, and member Kathie Hess Crouse, R-Putnam.

The three Delegates accepted the award as virtual attendees during the Oct. 15 AABC Achievement Awards ceremony as part of the 2023 AABC Birth Institute conference. AABC, a multidisciplinary membership organization made up of birth centers, individuals and organizations that support the birth center model, noted the award was given to the members in recognition of their “advocacy to improve access to midwifery birth center care for childbearing families of West Virginia through your tireless – and ultimately successful – effort to remove birth centers from the Certificate of Need requirement.”

“Fighting for mothers and babies to have the ability to select the specialized care that works best for them is one of the main reasons I ran for office,” said Hess Crouse. “This freedom is especially important for us in West Virginia where so many of us are in rural and isolated areas with access challenges.” 

For Vice Chair Tully, a Registered Nurse and Family Nurse Practitioner, the fight to exempt birthing centers from the Certificate of Need process was a common sense cut to unnecessary red tape. 

“Birthing centers in West Virginia were already heavily regulated through the Office of Health Facility Licensure and Certification, so we really had no need to run them through the expensive bureaucracy of a Certificate of Need exemption,” Tully said. “And what better way to encourage economic growth in health care than to allow birthing centers to flourish?”

The AABC Public Advocate Award guidelines include supporting legislation for safe, cost-effective health care alternatives for low-risk women and their families, which Chair Summers has advocated for since first being elected to the House in 2014.

“I’ve seen a lot of complications working as a neonatal intensive care unit nurse, and one thing is for certain in West Virginia: One size does not fit all,” Summers said. “We all need the freedom to choose where we get our health care.”

Summers, Tully and Hess Crouse received one of five AABC Achievement Awards. The organization’s other awards were granted in the categories of media, community, professional and collaborating physician.

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