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2024 Power 100: Rachel Blessington

A woman wearing a black jacket and a pink shirt saying "Empower" stands in front of an urban intersection. Photo | Courtesy of Worcester Community Midwifery Rachel Blessington, certified nurse midwife, founder & executive director at Worcester Community Midwifery
Rachel Blessington Title Certified nurse midwife, founder & executive director Company Worcester Community Midwifery, in Worcester Employees 4 Residence Dudley Colleges Assumption University, Massachusetts College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences; Frontier Nursing University Read all the Power 100 profiles here
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As outcomes for mothers and newborns worsen, Rachel Blessington is striving to revolutionize the way babies are born. Opening a birthing center may not sound monumental, but consider the red tape involved and you realize Blessington isn’t just your average certified nurse midwife. Blessington opened her Worcester practice on James Street in the summer, though she’s been practicing in Central Massachusetts for years. Now, patients can visit her in the office for prenatal and postnatal care along with routine women’s healthcare services.

But an outpatient clinic isn’t the ultimate goal for Blessington, an area native and member of the 2024 Leadership Worcester cohort. She’s working toward opening a birthing center where patients deliver, as an alternative to home or hospital birth. Massachusetts has just one other birth center now open, in Northampton, while 400 birth centers are operating across the U.S., according to Baystate Birth Coalition.

Maternal mortality rates are increasing, creating an overall decline in outcomes for mothers and babies. UMass Memorial Health closed its labor and delivery unit in Leominster because patient volume is falling. Blessington advocates for more midwifery care for low-risk pregnancies to help reverse those trends, following the model in European countries with better birth outcomes.

The requirements to open a birthing center are daunting for any provider, and a private practice like hers is seriously challenged by the cost and undertaking of it, from a licensing standpoint. Yet, she describes herself as too stubborn to quit. Championing changes to state regulations governing training, reimbursement from insurers, and birth center licensing, Blessington is doing everything in her power to make a Worcester birth center a reality.

Read all the Power 100 profiles here.

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