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Saraswathi Vedam, RM, FACNM, Sci D (hc)

Saraswathi Vedam is Lead Investigator of the Birth Place Lab and Professor of Midwifery, at University of British Columbia. She has been a clinician and a health professional educator for over 30 years. Professor Vedam has successfully coordinated multi-stakeholder community-led research projects in provincial and national settings. Her research projects include the national, CIHR-funded Canadian Birth Place Study examining attitudes to place of birth among maternity care providers; and Changing Childbirth in BC, a provincial, participatory study of women’s preferences for maternity care. The Giving Voice to Mothers Study explored experiences of respect, discrimination, and inequities in access to quality care among communities of color and among those who plan home and birth center births. Professor Vedam is currently PI of a CIHR-funded national research project to evaluate respectful maternity care, Giving Voice to Mothers-Canada. In 2017, she was selected as one of the inaugural, Michael Smith Health Research Institute Health Professional Investigators.

She has applied her expertise with instrument development and psychometric evaluation to the development of clinical screening tools, MAPi, the Movement and Pulse index to assess fetal well-being, and scales to measure provider attitudes to home birth (PAPHB, PAPHI-i). Recently, she lead a multi-disciplinary team in the Access and Integration Maternity care Mapping (AIMM) Study to develop the MISS index, an evidence-based composite measure of the integration of midwives into health systems. She also led a Delphi team of multi-disciplinary experts to develop and validate the Birthplace ResQu Index, first critical appraisal tool for research on safety of birth place.

Professor Vedam and her team have applied patient-oriented data to the development and validation of three new quality measures, the Mothers’s Autonomy in Decision Making (MADM) scale, the Mothers on Respect (MOR) index, and the Pregnant Persons’ Experience of Mistreatment by Providers (PPEMP) index, which are being applied in high and middle resource countries to evaluate quality of maternity care at the institutional, system, and country levels. The patient-informed data from the application of these tools led Professor Vedam to develop an interprofessional online course, Dialogue and Decisions, to teach medical, nursing, genetic counseling and midwifery learners the process of person-centred decision making and conflict transformation.

Professor Vedam has been active in setting national and international policy on place of birth, and midwifery education and regulation. She has provided expert consultations to policy makers in Mexico, Hungary, Chile, China, the Czech Republic, Canada, the US, and India. She was Convener and Chair of 4 national Home Birth Consensus Summits. At these historic summits a multi-stakeholder group of leaders (clinicians, consumers, policymakers, legislators, researchers, ethicists, and administrators) crafted a common agenda to address equitable access to high quality care across birth settings in the United States. In 2010, she chaired the 5th International Normal Labour and Birth Research conference in Vancouver.

 

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Kathrin Stoll, PhD. Research Associate

Kathrin Stoll is a PhD-level researcher with over 15 years of experience. She holds federal (CIHR) and provincial (MSFHR) postdoctoral salary awards. Her program of research focuses on clinical, psychosocial, and health systems factors that are associated with optimal maternal and newborn outcomes. She has expertise in quantitative research methods and analyses, including survey and evaluation research, scale construction and psychometric testing, perinatal population data analysis, and regression modelling.

Because of her interdisciplinary education and work experience, spanning the disciplines of psychology, sociology, epidemiology, nursing, family practice, and midwifery, Kathrin has had the pleasure of working with clinicians, graduate students, and fellow researchers from different disciplines. She is experienced with grant development, has published over 30 papers, and volunteered for 5 years as co-editor of the Canadian Journal of Midwifery Research & Practice. Kathrin works closely with 2-4 midwifery undergraduate and graduate students every year and enjoys mentoring them through the process of developing the research skills necessary to complete their capstone/thesis projects.

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Mimi Niles, PhD, CNM, MPH

Mimi Niles, PhD, CNM, MPH is a full spectrum midwife and a midwifery care researcher from New York City, NY. Her work explores the potential of integrated models of midwifery care in creating health equity in historically disenfranchised communities. Her dissertation work titled ‘Kairos care in a Chronos world: An analysis of midwifery care in urban public hospitals’ explores both the potential and challenges of practising midwifery in historically disenfranchised communities. This US-based research was funded, in part, by the National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health – a division of the Centers for Disease Control.

As a midwife, working in one of the largest urban public health care networks in the US, she is committed to providing high quality maternity care to all pregnant and parenting people. She is extensively trained in utilizing critical feminist theory and qualitative research methods to generate policy and programming that is rooted in intersectional and anti-racist frameworks. As a researcher, she hopes to generate midwifery knowledge as a tool to build equity and liberation for marginalized and minoritized people and families.

Dr. Niles serves on the NYC Department of Health Maternal Morbidity and Mortality Review Committee, one of the few midwives serving in this role. She is an active member of the midwifery in her local and national communities and has received various awards including the Johnson & Johnson Minority Faculty Award, Jonas Nurse Leaders Scholar Award, Macy Foundation’s Biggs Health Policy Scholar, and ACNM’s 2018 Carrington-Nieves-Hsia Doctoral Student of Color award.  Dr. Niles now serves on the Board of Directors of the National Association of Certified Professional Midwives. Her most rewarding work to date is as the mother of her two glorious children, born at home with midwives.  She joins the Birth Place Lab as a Postdoctoral Fellow.

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Jasmina Geldman, MSc. Research Coordinator

Jasmina is the Research Coordinator for the Birth Place Lab. She has a Master of Science in Population and Public Health from UBC, and brings nine years of experience in research project management and analytical support roles. In her previous role as the Research and Knowledge Translation Network Coordinator for Arthritis Research Canada, a patient-oriented research center, she facilitated participatory and consumer-driven research projects.  Jasmina is excited to be a part of a team that that applies and evaluates participatory action and patient-centered approaches to facilitate safe and respectful maternity care.

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Winnie Lo, MSc, Community Engagement Coordinator

Winnie Lo joined Birth Place Lab in Feb 2019.  She is a trained nurse, midwife and OBGYN sonographer licensed in the UK and holds an MSc in Public Health from the University of London.  She has extensive healthcare operation, research, clinical and teaching experience in women and child health in the UK and UAE.  She has dedicated most of her career in advocating person-centred care, improving quality of care, accessibility and equity through setting up and developing clinical and specialty services.  She has co-authored several publications and received media attention on her research in obesity and recurrent miscarriage which has been included in guidelines, earning her an award in implementing changes in clinical area.  Winnie is passionate about multidisciplinary collaboration, patient engagement and training to promote positive inter-professional work culture and cohesiveness to improve care, outcomes and experiences of service users.  She is excited to be part of the Birth Place Lab team, to facilitate multidisciplinary and community based participatory research on maternity health care and birth settings in BC and in Canada.

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Alison Mclean, Community Engagement Coordinator, GVTM Canada

Alison has extensive experience working with vulnerable patient populations and diverse groups of people. Her fluency and working knowledge in French, Ndebele, Zulu, Spanish and Portuguese have enabled her to connect with varying communities. Alison has co-authored four published manuscripts and contributed to several posters, abstracts and conference presentations. She is very passionate about being a part of the solution to reducing the burden of preventable maternal and newborn death and increasing access to reproductive healthcare.

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Jeanette McCulloch, Communications Consultant

Jeanette McCulloch provides communications support and knowledge translation for the Birth Place Lab. She is the co-founder of BirthSwell, which is improving infant and maternal health - and the way we talk about birth and breastfeeding - through strategic digital communications. With more than 20 years experience in communications and women’s health advocacy, she provides consultation to local, statewide, national, and international birth and breastfeeding organizations and small businesses. She has published research and spoken at national conferences on reaching millennial parents online. She is passionate about health equity and ensuring that all families have access to high-quality, culturally sensitive birth and lactation care. Jeanette has two children, both born with the support of a midwife.

Collaborators

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Tanya Khemet Taiwo, CPM, MPH

Tanya Khemet Taiwo, CPM, MPH lives in Sacramento, CA where she has practiced in community clinic settings for 18 years. She currently works in a Federally Qualified Health Center, caring for low-income families in a multi-disciplinary setting, where women’s health services are enhanced with health education, nutrition and social services. She comes from a family tradition of midwives, was trained at Seattle Midwifery School, and apprenticed with midwives in Seattle, Senegal and Jamaica. An adjunct professor in the Department of Midwifery at Bastyr University in Kenmore, WA, Tanya is a PhD candidate in Epidemiology at University of California – Davis. She is conducting research on the role of prenatal maternal stress and socioeconomic status on infant neurodevelopment and immune system functions. She also serves as co-President of the Board of Directors of the National Association of Certified Professional Midwives, and counts herself blessed as the mother of three beautiful girls who were all born at home into the hands of midwives.

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Courtney Broten, RM, McAC, MHPE

Courtney Broten completed a degree in Midwifery and has since cared for diverse groups of people throughout pregnancy, birth, postpartum, and newborn periods in both rural and urban settings in British Columbia. She has served as faculty with the Division of Midwifery at UBC since 2010. Her professional responsibilities have included working for the Midwives Association of BC on provincial access issues for midwives. She is particularly interested in health professional education research and design. Courtney has completed a Master’s in Health Professional Education through Maastricht University in the Netherlands, and she is a member of UBC’s Centre for Health Education Scholarship.

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Elizabeth Nethery, MSc, MSM