Extra costs, health risks for pregnant women in maternity deserts
ABC 15 NEWS | By: Melissa Blasius , Courtland Jeffrey
Sarah Camacho wakes up before dawn to get to her obstetrician's office and back home before her older kids get out of school. There's nothing routine about her pregnancy checkups because she has to make a seven-hour round-trip drive.
Camacho, 38, lives in Clifton, a rural mining community in Arizona's Greenlee County.
"It's a tiny town," she said. "We have one stop light." The town has a medical clinic, but no specialists in maternity care. In order to find an obstetrics and gynecology office that could meet her medical and scheduling needs, she picked a MomDoc office in Queen Creek. Camacho used to live in the southeast Valley and has relatives nearby.
Camacho is one of nearly 11 million U.S. women who live in maternity deserts. Their counties don't have OB-GYN specialists or hospitals that provide maternity care. In Arizona, there are two maternity desert counties: Greenlee and La Paz. Approximately 350 babies are born to women living in these counties each year.
"Being on the edge of the suburbs, we're routinely seeing women from Globe, from Safford, even Coolidge and Florence," said Physician Assistant Abbey Raynor. "They're having to drive two hours, three hours to a higher acuity hospital to find care, to be delivered safely by people who deliver more than 30 babies a year."
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