Kor looks back on 20 years of midwifery | PostIndependent.com

Kor looks back on 20 years of midwifery

Kelley Cox Post Independent

GLENWOOD SPRINGS, Colorado – Joy Kor figures she’s delivered roughly 1,500 babies in Glenwood Springs in her 20 years as a midwife at Women’s Health Associates. But she admits it’s easy to lose count along the way.

For anyone doing the math, that’s about 75 babies a year, on average. And that’s not including the eight years Kor spent as a nurse in the obstetrics (OB) department at Valley View Hospital, assisting with many a birth before she became a midwife.

“The birthing experience is a time that any woman will probably never forget, and it’s been a privilege to be a part of that,” said Kor, who retired from her midwifery work last fall.

Kor continues to work part time at Women’s Health as a phone triage nurse, taking phone calls from clients, answering questions and consulting with physicians.

But her days in the delivery room are over after a long, satisfying career.

Kor was honored at a special gathering Thursday by associates and friends, including many of the mothers whose babies she has delivered over the years.

“Joy was my nurse when I went into premature labor with my first son,” said Trish Kramer, clinic director at Women’s Health. “I already had known her for many years as our mountain climbing OB nurse with the lovely British accent.”

Kor, now 67, grew up in England and did her nursing training in Edinburgh, Scotland, before coming to the United States at age 24 in 1967.

“When I was done with my nurse training I was doing a lot of climbing and had met a group of Californians while climbing in the Alps,” she said. “They talked me into making the move.”

Kor lived for about a year in California, then in Boulder before coming to Glenwood Springs in 1980 where she got a job as an OB nurse at Valley View.

“I found I really liked it,” she said. “But I sometimes felt frustrated that I couldn’t do the whole thing.”

So, she took a year off to train as a midwife at the University of Southern California, and returned to go to work with obstetrician Dr. Jim O’Donnell as Glenwood Springs’ very first midwife.

“The goal of a midwife is to make pregnancy and birth as good an experience as it can be,” she explained. “We try to get to know all of our clients and have a personal relationship with them, all the way through their pregnancy and at the time of birth.

“We also try to make the birthing process as natural as possible,” she said. “We always work with physician backup, so if there are any problems or complications we have someone on call.”

During prenatal care, midwives are able to spend a little more time with expecting mothers than physicians, she noted.

She credits much of what she learned on the job these past 20 years to Dr. O’Donnell, and their work eventually led to a full staff of midwives serving Glenwood Springs.

“I could not have accomplished all I did in midwifery without the help of Dr. O’Donnell,” Kor said.

O’Donnell also recently “retired” from his OB work, meaning he will no longer be delivering babies, but is continuing with his gynecology practice.

Together, Kor and O’Donnell were part of the advisory group that led to the formation of the what was originally called the Healthy Beginnings program in Garfield County, which provided much-needed prenatal care for the area’s indigent population.

“There has been a great need for midwives to take care of not only our private clients in the region, but the indigent women who were not getting proper prenatal care,” Kor said. “Before the program started, those women would often show up at the hospital in labor. Sometimes they were in pre-term labor and had other complications.”

That program was begun in 1991, and Kor became the first midwife with Healthy Beginnings. Those services are now being handled through the Woman’s Place at Mountain Family Health Center.

Kor said she stays in touch with many of the mothers and families she has worked with over the years. She’s even delivered a few next-generation babies of moms she delivered as babies around the time she first started.

“I love running into families I’ve worked with and seeing their kids grow up,” she said.

She also raised her own two children, Julia and James, in Glenwood Springs. They’re now grown and living in Hawaii, which she admits is a nice place to visit her two grandsons, ages 1 and 4, now that she’s retired.

She met her husband, Paul Meyers, in Glenwood Springs as well, while ice climbing about 15 years ago.

“We like to do the outdoor things; bike, hike, raft, and we still do some ice climbing,” Kor said. “He’s really been a big help and support over the years.”


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