Nurse Midwife Joins Care for Her Team at Mendocino Community Health Clinic

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January 2012

Recently, Certified Nurse Midwife Katrina Lieben moved her family from Alaska to Ukiah so she could become part of the Care for Her team at Mendocino Community Health Clinic (MCHC). Care for Her is MCHC’s women’s health service, which includes a midwifery-based obstetrical practice and full scope (medical and surgical) gynecological health care.

Before becoming a Certified Nurse Midwife (CNM), Lieben had extensive nursing experience in neonatal intensive care and obstetrical (labor and delivery) care. After more than a decade of nursing, she decided to pursue an additional nursing certification by becoming a CNM. This additional education allows her to serve as a patient’s primary care provider.

Although she joins us from Alaska, she is a Sacramento native and Humboldt State University graduate. So in a sense, she is coming home. When she and her family decided they’d like to return to California, they wanted a small community with easy access to the offerings of a bigger metropolitan area. Ukiah fit the bill perfectly. “We lived in Ketchikan, an island in southeast Alaska. It has about 16,000 people and the only way off the island is by plane or ferry, which made it tough to travel,” she said.

The opportunity at Care for Her was also a perfect fit. Lieben describes her approach to health care as a partnership with her patients: she encourages her patients to take an active role in making decisions about their own care. “Pregnancy provides a lot of teachable moments. I try to take advantage of those to help new mothers care for themselves and their new babies,” she said. Lieben also cares for non-pregnant patients, from young to old. “I help patients with family planning, STD [sexually transmitted disease] counseling, annual gynecology exams and more.” Since Care for Her is a service that promotes health education and informed decision-making for its patients, Lieben fit right in.

Although she is not fluent in Spanish, she can speak a little and is always willing to try. She plans to brush up on her Spanish language skills now that they may help her patients. When asked about what she would share with prospective patients, she said, “Don’t be afraid. I’m open to listen and I won’t judge you. I’ll help you get to where you want to be.”

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