Editor’s note: The following is an op-ed column. The opinions expressed in this letter are those of the writer, and do not necessarily reflect those of The Mendocino Voice. If you would like to submit a letter to the editor feel free to write to [email protected].
When COVID-19 hit about a year ago, people were encouraged to stay home as much as possible, so it may not surprise you to find out that about nine months later we saw the beginning of a baby boom that continues today. Even members of our own staff have some beautiful new family additions to show for it: 12 newborns to 11 staff members, one set of twins, and four more babies yet to come!
It’s also been about a year since Mendocino Coast District Hospital closed its Labor and Delivery department. I know it was an agonizing decision for hospital administrators, driven by the harsh economics of our troubled healthcare system. I also know many community members did not support the decision. Be that as it may, it has not slowed down our perinatal services at Mendocino Coast Clinics.
Now that the vast majority of expectant mothers on the coast deliver their babies in Ukiah, it is more important than ever to make sure they have access to top-quality perinatal care close to home. The foundation for a healthy pregnancy starts with a trusting relationship between a patient and her caregiver. The caregivers not only monitor patients’ physical and emotional health, they also provide education so patients can take good care of themselves and their growing baby. Our providers have extensive experience in providing this care to our community.
Once a patient reaches 28 weeks’ gestation, or about two-thirds of the way through the pregnancy, Mendocino Coast Clinics begins coordinating care with the medical providers who will deliver the baby. For MCC patients who need financial assistance, we can often offer some funding to offset the cost of transportation, temporary housing, or other costs for perinatal care and at the time of delivery.
Once the baby is born, patients can return home for care here at MCC, where we care for both mothers and babies, including sexual and reproductive healthcare, family planning services, breastfeeding classes, nutritional education, and pediatric services.
When new parents need a little extra support, they can visit our Family Wellness Center where we provide health and wellness services including nutritional consultations, depression screenings, acupuncture, and post-partum screenings. We work with community partners like First 5 Mendocino to support new parents with childrearing classes, because kids don’t come with an instruction manual. We also support new mothers with breastfeeding advice and connect families with support services in the community.
So, as you can see, when it comes to helping the next generation get started, Mendocino Coast Clinics has all the bases covered. We are here for you now and will be here for you for generations to come.
Lucresha Renteria is the executive director at Mendocino Coast Clinics, a local, non-profit, federally qualified health center offering medical, dental and behavioral health care to people in the coastal communities of Mendocino County.