MUSCATINE, Iowa — Bailee Tordai, who was 33 weeks into her pregnancy, barely made it to the prenatal checkup. Her clunky old Jeep couldn’t complete the 2-mile trip from her house to the University of Iowa’s outreach clinic in her southeastern Iowa hometown. It was a hot June day, and a wiring problem made the Jeep conk out in the street.
A passerby helped Tordai, 22, push her stricken vehicle off the road and into a parking lot. Then she called her stepdad for a ride to the clinic.
Jaclyn Roman, a nurse midwife, walked into the exam room. “I heard your car broke down.”
“Yup. You want to buy it? Five bucks!” Tordai joked.
Her lack of reliable transportation won’t be a laughing matter in August, when her baby is due. She will need to arrange for someone to drive her about 40 miles northwest to the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics in Iowa City. She can’t give birth at Muscatine’s hospital because it shuttered its birthing unit in 2020.
Roman is part of an unusual effort to minimize the harm caused by such closures. She’s one of 11 certified nurse midwives from the University of Iowa who travel regularly to Muscatine and Washington, another southeastern Iowa town where the local hospital closed its birthing …