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In This Issue:
Miriam Mahler checks in on the proud new parents of a baby girl during rounds on CWN-5, the Center for Labor and Birth.
For three years in the Peace Corps, Miriam Mahler, CNM, MPH, worked as a registered nurse in a community health center in Bogota, Colombia, delivering babies, learning Spanish and beginning a career that has enabled her to help thousands of women and their families.
“That experience solidified midwifery for me,” said Mahler, now the program director for Midwifery at BWH, who enrolled in a midwifery program at Georgetown University following the Peace Corps. “I’d always known it, but the experience also really brought home for me that I needed and wanted to work with underserved populations.”
Since joining BWH as a staff midwife in 1989, she has become a powerful advocate and care giver for underserved patients at 10 community health centers and a dedicated leader and colleague for the hospital’s 20 nurse midwives. Next month, Mahler will be honored for her leadership, dedication and compassion with the 2009 Thomson Compassionate Leadership Award at BWH.
“Miriam is one of the kindest and most talented clinicians I have had the opportunity to work with,” said Paula McNichols, executive director of Brookside Community Health Center, one of the health centers the BWH midwifery group works with. “Despite the complexity of the life situations of our patients, Miriam continuously offers sound and supportive comfort and counsel, engaging patients in their treatment plans and outcomes.”
Mahler recently took on an initiative to translate patient consent forms into Vietnamese, Haitian Creole and other languages reflective of the patients at the health centers. The diversity of her patients enthralls Mahler, who loves learning about the different cultures and personal stories that shape each of her patient’s lives.
Understanding those stories and cultures helps Mahler and her midwife colleagues form close relationships with the mothers who depend on their care throughout pregnancy, during delivery and for six weeks post-partum. “Patients often hug me at the beginning or end of a visit,” Mahler said. “There’s a true caring between us.”
Patrick Egan, medical director of Dorchester House Multi-Service Center, said that the number of patients at the health center who select BWH for their prenatal care has more than doubled since Mahler began working there three years ago. “I think this is a reflection of both the excellent care she provides and the lovely way she interacts with her patients,” Egan said. “She is warm and supportive of young women nervous in their first pregnancy, as well as women who have a wide variety of questions and concerns that arise despite their previous experiences.”
Since she became program director of the Midwifery Program at BWH in 2003, Mahler still sees patients at Dorchester House weekly and fills in at other health centers when needed, in addition to expanded administrative and leadership responsibilities. She serves as the voice of midwives on hospital committees, nurtures the relationships with community health centers and participates in BWH’s ongoing work to decrease the incidence of low birth weight infants in the community.
“Miriam is a known leader who is courageous and always willing to challenge injustice, commit to excellence in patient care for herself and other team members and role-model professional behavior,” said Angelleen Peters-Lewis, PhD, RN, director of Women’s and Newborn’s Nursing and Clinical Services.