P.C. midwife is passionate about women’s health
July 22, 2011
Danielle Demeter had a great Fourth of July this year. She was tired at the end of the day, so she took a pass on watching the fireworks, went home, had a nice dinner and went to bed. At 1:30 in the morning, the veteran Park City-based midwife got a call she’d been expecting. A patient of hers was in labor. She was at the hospital within minutes and the baby came a while later. "It was wonderful, a different kind of fireworks and even better," she grins.
It was all in a day’s (or night’s) work for Demeter, who has delivered hundreds of babies for Summit County families since beginning her practice here in 2004. And although she admits she’d love to sleep through the night a little more often, there’s nothing she’d rather be doing. "I don’t really think I chose midwifery; I think it chose me. But somehow I knew in the deepest recesses of my soul that this is what I needed to be doing," she says.
Born at a U.S. Army base in Okinawa, Japan, Demeter grew up a confirmed "Army brat." At age four, when her father left the military, the family returned to the states and settled in East Lansing, Michigan, where she attended primary and secondary school. As a child she remembers trips to grandmother’s house in upstate Michigan. "She lived in an old Victorian home which she opened up to unwed mothers, so birth has been in my family for a long time," she notes.
After graduating from East Lansing High School, Demeter took a summer job as a waitress in a restaurant on Mackinaw Island. "In 1989 a co-worker said I should come out to Utah and do seasonal work in Park City. I thought, what the heck is in Utah? But I decided to come out and when I got here I thought, this is the most beautiful place I’ve ever seen," she recalls.
Demeter enrolled at Westminster College in Salt Lake City, where she completed a bachelor’s degree in nursing. Within a year after graduating, marriage took her to Concord, N.H., where she worked as a labor and delivery nurse and taught childbirth classes. "I really missed Utah and the mountains, but I grew the kind of legs I needed to be a good midwife while I lived there. It formed who I was as a midwife and a person," she says.
When she divorced in 2002, Demeter promptly moved back to Park City and enrolled at the University of Utah College of Nursing’s School of Midwifery. Within two years she had earned a master’s degree and was a certified nurse-midwife (CNM) and women’s health nurse practitioner.
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Demeter is deeply passionate about her work. "It’s kind of like a calling, not like going to a convent or anything, but I knew that whatever I decided to do I had to be passionate about and do well. I know people who go to their jobs every day and hate it. I just couldn’t imagine allowing my soul to be sucked dry like that. I go to my job and I can’t believe I get paid to do it," she says.
Demeter was in private practice in Park City from 2004 though 2009, when she joined the staff at the Park City Specialty Clinic at the new Park City Medical Center. She is an outspoken advocate for nurse-midwifery and women’s health care in Summit County. "Some people have a real misunderstanding of midwives. I want more people to know that this is the kind of health care women have been searching for but didn’t know was available. I want to change the old and, frankly, stale paradigm that ‘physicians equal safety, therefore midwives equal risk.’ I have great respect for physicians and work closely with them when necessary, but I work with a lot of women who never have to see a doctor."
Demeter cites statistics from the World Health Organization to press her case. "The United States is the wealthiest country on the planet with the most resources, but we barely make the top 20 on the list of countries with the lowest maternal mortality and morbidity rates (bad outcomes). Countries like Sweden and the United Kingdom, where midwives are common and well respected, top the list for lowest maternal mortality and morbidity. I guess I just want people to know about the option of midwifery care in Park City, that it is excellent, high quality care. This isn’t the ‘B-team’ care," she says.
At the Park City Specialty Clinic, Demeter does all women’s health care: annual exams, well women care and diagnosis and treatment of diseases and ailments. To learn more about midwifery services, contact Demeter at the Park City Specialty Clinic, (435) 658-7400.
Demeter is likely here to stay. "Look around," she explains. "It’s obvious why this is a spectacular place to live. The population is sophisticated, educated, healthy and active. I pinch myself on a daily basis because I can’t believe I live and work in a place that is so special."
What’s the best part of her job? "I’ve probably delivered 150 babies in Park City since the hospital opened," she says. "Along the way I’ve established a lot of beautiful relationships with people in town and it’s very rewarding. I love going to the park and watching all the moms with their babies in strollers. It’s sort of like a ‘Cheers" bar. Seems like everybody knows my name."
Steve Phillips is a Park City-based writer and actor. Send your profile comments and suggestions to him at firstname.lastname@example.org
Favorite things to do: hike, run, snowshoe, cross-country ski, wine and dine.
Favorite foods: "Anything hot and spicy. I’ve tried everything from fried crickets in Mexico to wild boar in Italy."
Favorite authors: "David Sedaris can make anyone’s mood improve." Historical fiction and humor.
Favorite music: "I’ll listen to anything but, at home, silence is golden."
Bucket list: "I would love a nice, long vacation without a phone, completely off the grid. I want to travel the world more, but it’s hard to leave. The babies keep coming.
Animal companions: Dug, a three-year-old Boxer rescue dog, "friendly to all creatures great and small; Elizabeth, a three-year-old Chihuahua and a great cuddler. Both excellent running and hiking companions."