Torres Small helps get bill passed that focuses on maternal issues | KOB 4

Torres Small helps get bill passed that focuses on maternal issues

Chris Ramirez
Updated: September 29, 2020 06:08 PM
Created: September 29, 2020 02:59 PM

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M.- A bill passed in the U.S. House of Representatives aims to rural mothers and moms-to-be. 

Rebecca Zamora, a resident of Santa Rosa, would have benefited from the bill if it was in place during her second pregnancy.


Everything was going along fine until the seventh month.

She said she experienced excruciating pain in her back.

"We were in the ER and all the doctor had was a fetal heart monitor to hear the heart rate, which thankfully was OK, but they didn't really have any tools to do an ultrasound or anything like that to ensure there was no issue with the baby," Zamora said.

Zamora had to be flown by air ambulance from Santa Rosa to Albuquerque to get the care she needed.

Doctors determined Zamora had a gallbladder attack. The baby was fine, but Rebecca was told the only way she could ensure her baby's health was to get it checked out in Albuquerque. 

And when baby Emma was ready to make her debut into the world a couple months later, Zamora mad the 90-minute drive to Albuquerque while she was in labor. 
"We didn't end up making it to Albuquerque, and I ended up delivering her in the vehicle on the side of I-40," she said.

Emma was born in the car, on the side of the interstate. 

"My husband and mother were with me, and they delivered Emma," Zamora said.

Zamora's experiences aren't uncommon for women living in rural New Mexico, according to Democratic Congresswoman Xochitl Torres Small.

"I talked with a CEO in Portales who put it in a really stark way for me. She said that every future resident of Portales is going to have to be born somewhere else because they don't have a maternity ward in the hospital," Torres Small said.

Torres Small filed the bill that created federal funding for maternal and obstetric care in rural areas. 

Last week, her idea was rolled into a larger healthcare bill that passed the U.S. House of Representatives. 

There are numerous elements to the bill:

  • It creates federal grants to allow rural hospitals to buy ultrasound machines, fetal monitoring equipment and other pregnancy related technology
  • It expands telehealth networks
  • It creates training opportunities so that more rural healthcare providers, midwives and doulas can provide maternal care
  • It forces the CDC to better keep track of what's going on in rural America 

"The United States is the last developed country that actually has an increasing maternal mortality and morbidity rate," Torres Small said. "We don't exactly know why, and we have to get information about rural care to help us stop that disturbing trend."
The hope is by providing more resources to rural mothers, more newborns have a better chance at a healthy life. 
"Had we had some of the resources here, I maybe could have delivered here and felt comfortable with that knowing resources were available to us," Zamora said.

This healthcare bill is not a done deal yet. It heads to the U.S. Senate for approval. 

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