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Masks for NYC Midwives - Made Possible by Heroes Coast to Coast!

Melanie, one of the Sirens MC delivering life-saving PPE to this NYC midwife!

When consumer advocate Élan McAllister texted me asking if I needed PPE (Personal Protective Equipment) adding, “we’ll have a second delivery of masks and face shields at the end of the week,” I knew a guardian angel was watching over the New York City midwives and their pregnant clients.

Since New York City was under state quarantine (except for essential reasons) due to the COVID-19 pandemic, I began doing virtual prenatal visits with my pregnant mamas. However, the time was drawing near for me to provide face-to-face care. But in order for me to reunite with my clients and provide the safest midwifery care - it would be essential to have full PPE. While I had a few N95 masks which were mailed to me by one of my wonderful clients who were having their second baby with me - I did not have enough protective equipment to see all of my clients. There was thankfully plenty of PPE at the hospital where I delivered my most recent baby - however as an independent midwife I urgently needed PPE in my office, and the question of how I was going to get PPE into my office - was looming in my mind.

Élan ran the advocacy organization, “Choices in Childbirth” for 12 years in New York City - and now her outreach and coordination was from the west coast and couldn’t be more timely. Élan explained, “A couple of weeks ago I saw a video on FaceBook posted by a NYC midwife who was exhausted, scared and frustrated about the lack of access to PPE in the face of Covid-19. Shortly after, another FB friend posted a link to a grassroots fundraising effort to get masks to healthcare providers in NYC. I reached out to the organizers and worked out a way to partner with them to designate funds toward masks for midwives.” Élan created the fundraising campaign, "Masks for Midwives," and sent out a call to action to organizations where she had worked on policy initiatives - including NYC Midwives and NYSALM.

Midwife Kimm Sun had been working hard doing the distribution and the hands-on work of receiving the masks and other PPE, and repackaging them for delivery. But to get the PPE to midwives practicing in all settings including homes, 2 birth centers and 13 hospitals, she would need delivery volunteers. Kimm posted on a neighborhood site, and The Sirens, an all woman’s motorcycle club that has been leading the NYC Pride Parade since 1986, no strangers to service - stepped up big-time to organize the plan of action for the deliveries. Since early 2016, The Sirens have been transporting urgently needed expressed breastmilk, organized by The New York Milk Bank. The milk goes to premature and ill babies in need of milk at home and in hospitals. The mission is dedicated to improving the health and survival of infants in need by providing them with safely pasteurized donor human milk when their mothers’ own milk is unavailable or insufficient. Just as it is imperative to deliver breastmilk in a timely way, getting life-saving masks and PPE to midwives who are delivering babies on the frontline during the Corona Virus outbreak in our country - is paramount.

Melanie, pictured here, is one of The Sirens MC who arrived at my door. She was selfless and hand delivered my life-saving package of PPE - and then was off to deliver more PPE to other midwives.

Élan said, “After living in NYC for 29 years, and running Choices in Childbirth for 12 of those years, it feels really good to be able to do something for the birth community that has been such an important part of my life. I am SO happy for this opportunity to reconnect with old friends and help out in anyway that I can. It feels good to flex my activist muscles!”

To donate go to: The Mask Force NYC Go Fund Me Campaign, and **be sure to write "Masks for Midwives" in the comment box** to ensure donations are designated for this campaign. To date, "Masks for Midwives," has raised almost $15,000.00 for PPE including masks as well as securing donations for face shields and gowns. By the end of last week they distributed 1,000 masks and several hundred gowns to approximately 130 providers. Many more will be distributed with their second shipment coming this week!

I am forever grateful to the many heroes who have been donating and bringing life-saving PPE to the NYC independent midwives working on the birth frontlines. A shout out and air hugs to the heroes coast to coast - who are helping keep birth safe during COVID-19. As Melanie shared, "I'm glad we were able to successfully deliver your PPE so you can continue welcoming those wonderful babies to their mothers."

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