Sponsored by CalMed Hawaii
For some families, seeking resources during pregnancy or post-partum seems daunting. CalMed Hawaii partners with community organizations including University Health Partners of Hawaii to ensure that all parents are able to receive the services they need.
Leʻa Minton is a certified nurse-midwife and international board-certified lactation consultant. Born and raised in Hawaii, she hails from Koʻolauloa. She has worked in federally qualified health center, hospital, clinic, and home settings, and she volunteers with multiple community organizations, collaboratives and advisory committees. Her passion is in maternal child health; with a focus on sharing knowledge, supporting informed choice and helping families to be well.
Currently, Minton works at the University Health Partners of Hawaiʻi (UHP). In 2019, through an AlohaCare community innovation grant, the organization started the Midwifery Integrated Home Visitation Program, also known as MI-Home.
“This program came about because we recognized that our current health care structure, where everyone needs to come into the clinic for their appointments, doesn’t work for everyone,” Minton begins. “There are many families where this is a struggle due to lack of insurance, childcare, transportation, housing, experiencing mental illness, their job schedule – a multitude of issues. And yet we recognize that these families still want to be well, they want access to healthcare.”
UHP has been able to keep the program running through additional grants from the Omidyar ‘Ohana Fund through the Hawai’i Community Foundation and the Joseph and Vera Long Foundation. You too can support the program by making a donation through the UH Foundation at uhfoundation.org/give.
“With the MI-Home program, I bring everything that would be in a clinic with me, and I deliver midwifery care in people’s homes, shelters, community parks – wherever they are,” she says. “I go to them and provide prenatal, postpartum, lactation, family planning, gynecological, and other health care services. And in recognizing that these families also often have many other needs, we do a full assessment of what other services they either need or desire such as food, financial, housing, ID, legal, substance use disorder treatment, utility, phone and other assistance. We help get them connected to resources that can lead to more security and stability in their life.”
In 2020, the program was able to serve 226 patients and provide over 600 visits.
Minton also volunteers with Breastfeeding Hawaiʻi, the state breastfeeding coalition. Its focus is to normalize human milk and keiki’s first food. You can donate to the organization at bfhawaii.org.
“Moms really learn how to nurse their baby by watching others and having support. It’s a skill set they learn and during the pandemic that has been hard for people to get as much support as they have needed,” she says. “We try to provide a comprehensive statewide directory of lactation resources, and we also continue with our journey towards opening a milk bank again in Hawaiʻi.”
People reach out to Breastfeeding Hawaiʻi for things like where to get breast pumps and parts, lactation consultants, support groups and education in their area, so the organization directs them to local providers like CalMed Hawaiʻi who has a lactation consultant, breastfeeding classes and a support group online.
Minton also volunteers with Midwives Alliance of Hawaiʻi. To support this organization or to learn more about it, visit midwivesallianceofhawaii.com.
“We’re really excited that licensure for midwives is now available in the state,” she adds. “It started in July 2020 and there are already 15 licensed midwives in Hawaiʻi. If families are choosing home birth we encourage them to inquire if the person is a licensed midwife.”
For more resources and information on breast pumps and breastfeeding, families can visit calmedhawaii.com.