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AZTEC — Women seeking care during pregnancy can now receive care from midwifery services at the San Juan Health Partners Family Medicine Clinic here.

The clinic, located at 120 Llano St., started its midwifery services in June and it is a division of San Juan Regional Medical Center.

Certified nurse midwives are registered nurses who have graduated from a nurse midwifery program and have passed a national certification examination to receive the professional designation, according to the American College of Nurse-Midwives website.

Carol Ewing is one of four certified nurse midwives who divides her time between the clinic in Aztec and the San Juan Health Partners Midwifery and Women's Health clinic in Farmington.

Before the Aztec clinic started services, patients traveled to Farmington for care, Ewing said.

She said the hospital administration thought it was important to provide midwifery services to patients who reside in areas such as Aztec, Blanco, Dulce, Nageezi, Lybrook and communities in Colorado.

"We're doing this to help our patients that live in the area, so they don't have to go all the way to Farmington," Ewing said.

While delivery continues to take place at the hospital in Farmington, the midwives can provide care for women from puberty to menopause at the Aztec clinic.

In addition to helping with the birth process, they provide well woman examinations and care that addresses prenatal, postpartum and menopause.

"We like coming out here," Ewing said adding the midwives rotate placement at the clinic as well as on-call scheduling.

Ewing, who has 30 years of midwifery experience, said she became a midwife because of her birth experiences and she wanted to assist women in childbirth.

"Women remember their births forever," she said.

Nicole Voorhis is experiencing her first pregnancy and among the reasons she selected the clinic was due to its location.

"It's convenient to come here then go home," the Aztec resident said.

When asked if she is nervous about having her first baby, Voorhis said she was not "because the midwives are super helpful, they answer all my questions."

Her husband, Myron Voorhis, echoed his wife's comment about the clinic's convenient location.

"I think it's nice. It's closer," he said adding his wife no longer has to drive separate trips to Farmington for appointments and for work.

San Juan Regional Medical Center spokeswoman Laura Werbner said the service provided by the midwives in Aztec has so far received positive response.

She said patients like the midwives and the midwives show they care for patients by asking about a patient's health, diet, activities and delivery plans.

"If you're a new mother going through this whole process, it makes it less scary and you feel like you have somebody caring for you and who's going to be there for you," Werbner said.

Noel Lyn Smith covers the Navajo Nation for The Daily Times. She can be reached at 505-564-4636.

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