Navigating perinatal care in Western North Carolina: Access for patients and providers

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Navigating perinatal specialty care requires access for both patients and their clinicians. Convenience and availability of regional resources, especially in predominantly rural areas, impact the ability to provide care in the ideal setting for each patient's individualized medical needs.

Any mention of Western North Carolina (WNC) instantly evokes iconic images of leaf season on the Blue Ridge Parkway or holiday decorations at the Biltmore Estate. These wonderful local attractions, among many others, obscure the challenging health care landscape for those residents who call the 16 western-most North Carolina counties home. Also known as Perinatal Region 1, Asheville is the urban center for this piece of Appalachia and also its tertiary medical hub [1]. The 51-bed neonatal intensive care unit at Mission Health is frequently full of babies delivered locally but cared for across the wider region by midwives, family practitioners, and obstetricians. Both providers and patients face barriers in navigating specialty care for antepartum mothers.