Midwife Center gets grant to expand facilities

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The Midwife Center for Birth & Women‘‍s Health in Pittsburgh’‍s Strip District is planning to expand its facility.

The center received some help toward that goal Friday, when the board of the Redevelopment Authority of Allegheny County met and awarded a $200,000 grant to the center from the county‘‍s Community Infrastructure and Tourism Fund.

The grant should help the center grow to meet what Executive Director Christine Haas said has been an increasing demand for midwifery services, especially in recent years.

The licensed and accredited center, the only one of its kind in Pittsburgh, currently averages more than 400 natural births a year. After the expansion is complete, Ms. Haas expects that number to increase to more than 500 births a year.

The extra space also will help the center increase the frequency of the other services it provides, such as gynecological care and breastfeeding consultation. And it will necessitate the hiring of more staff. The center plans to add at least nine permanent staff positions to its current roster of 27, Ms. Haas said. 

Although expansion is planned, a change in location is not. Found in 1982, the Midwife Center has been in its current spot on Penn Avenue since 2003. It will remain there, adding to its facility by building on space currently occupied by vacant lots and a row house. 

According to Ms. Haas, the center has been seeing a rise in demand, especially in recent years, as women look for alternatives to hospital births, where c-sections, as opposed to natural births, have become more common. She said women also are attracted to the Midwife Center by its positive outcomes for women and their children. 

Ms. Haas said the number of natural births performed at the center has doubled since 2007. 

Details concerning the new addition are still in the early stages. Ms. Haas said the added space will include birth suites and exam rooms, but said exact architectural details are not finalized. There is no firm date for when the addition will be completed and open, she said. 

She estimated the total cost of the project to be about $2.5 million, and said she was happy the center was able to secure the grant through the county’‍s Redevelopment Authority. 

“It’‍s a significant help,” she said. 

Kaitlynn Riely: kriely@post-gazette.com or 412-263-1707.

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