Terra Kennedy-Meairs

RN Nurse Midwife at Denver Health
Thornton, CO
14 years at Denver Health

Through this initiative, we are advancing the way we collect and share the voices of workers we serve. The intent of this initiative is to develop a collection of interviews and professional images reflecting workers’ experiences. This interview is with Terra Kennedy-Meairs, a RN Nurse Midwife at Denver Health. She has been with Denver Health for 14 years.

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On her home life
“I’m married with five kids, a blended family, two of whom have autism, and all five of them have ADHD. Their ages range from four to 13.”

On what she does in her free time
“With family, we like to go to the park or do seasonal activities, whatever time of year. So, like Pumpkin Patch or go look at Christmas lights or whatever. We like just hanging out, playing in the yard. And then on my own, I like reading. I also like true-crime podcasts and doing embroidery.”

On the challenges of the last few years
“It’s been challenging in a lot of ways and with the pandemic and then with some other personal things that have happened. But initially, I’m an essential worker so I had to work, and my husband had to be home with the kids, basically doing homeschooling, which was a big impact on our household income. It was really difficult for him to have to stay home with all of them and try to do online learning. We had some support from my dad, but he passed away in April. We lost some of our support system, and my husband lost some of his ability to work, even as things have opened back up. He’s able to work again, except we don’t have support for childcare anymore.”

On homeschooling
“It was very difficult, especially with five kids, trying to keep them all on task and give them their own space, but still have to monitor them the whole time. It was hard.”

On what worries her and keeps her up at night
“I worry about probably money the most, and just the difficulties in the current economic environment, of paying for everything, with five kids. I also worry about resources for my kids who are all neuro-divergent and have their own difficulties and trying to support them.”

I worry about probably money the most.

 

On how her friends and colleagues would describe her
“Resilient, smart, compassionate, resourceful, and hardworking.”

On what interested her in working for Denver Health as a midwife
“I was interested in the population that we work with, and the fact that it’s a not-for-profit hospital, instead of a corporate model. And just being able to care for people who otherwise wouldn’t get care.”

On what changed for her during the pandemic
“It changed a lot. Well one, we do a lot of work in the triage unit, which is kind of urgent care for pregnant patients. There was the additional burden of actually taking care of patients with COVID, in addition to the patients that were still in labor and still pregnant, and still had the normal things going on. And then just the difficulty with watching people have to labor with the mask on, and then not having their partners with them at their visits. Partners were always allowed in the labor room, thank goodness, but there was a point where they weren’t allowed to go to the ultrasounds, they weren’t allowed to go to the visits and all of that. Those sorts of things were difficult.”

“I love getting to take care of women and families during a big changing point in their life, a big transition.”

On what she likes about the work
she does
“I love getting to take care of women and families during a big changing point in their life, a big transition. And I also like being able to care for women or people with uterus’ during well-woman care or well-person care, taking care of gynecologic things as well and postpartum as well.

I just like being able to be there with people through all of their struggles and help them to have the best help that they possibly can and support them through their life struggles.”

 

On what she likes about Denver Health
“Denver Health is really supportive of midwifery in general, and that we have a really great collaborative relationship with our physician staff and with nursing. I feel like it’s a really great team that we get to have, and work together in a way that a lot of institutions, at least from what I’ve heard, have a lot more antagonism towards each other. We have a good, strong team.”

On the most challenging parts of her job
“I think just seeing more patients, being busier and busier with more patients in the same amount of time, with the same amount of resources. And then of course, there’s always a challenge, it’s generally a really happy specialty, but when it’s sad, it’s really, really sad. So that can be difficult. If a complication or something happens to a baby or even mothers that threaten their life and we have poor outcomes, it can be really difficult.”

On what she would change about her role or the organization, if she could
“I would have us have more help in the in-patient setting, so more midwives so that the load was a little bit lightened. And then I would also appreciate it if the pay structure was a little bit different. The way they give raises, depending on market adjustment, is sometimes a little bit questionable. There is no cost-of-living adjustment. They just do a market increase, so they compare it to other hospitals. Even though the cost of living is going up, our wages are not going up.”

On how she handles stressful situations at work
“I feel I’m able to handle it well, because it is a really supportive work environment. Everybody’s in the trenches together, so I always get a lot of support if there are difficult situations. You never feel like you’re alone in it. I try to leave work at work as much as I can, but it sticks in your mind when there’s a difficult situation. I try not to let it impact me too much.”

Everybody’s in the trenches together, so I always get a lot of support if there are difficult situations. You never feel like you’re alone in it.


On what she sees herself doing five years from now
“I think I will probably be doing the same thing that I’m doing now. Probably still working with Denver Health. I’m starting to take on a role with the electronic medical record, and so continuing to take on that administrative responsibility in a little bit more of a regular way. But really, I don’t see myself being anywhere different.”

On what a perfect life would look like
“It would be not having to work extra to make ends meet, and to have reliable childcare that meets the needs of our children, so that my husband would be able to work when he needed to.”

It would be not having to work extra to make ends meet

 

Photography: Lee Stiffler-Meyer | Let the Light in Studio

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WorkLife’s Worker Voice Initiative aims to advance the way we uplift the voices of workers we serve, focusing on authentic stories from workers who experience systemic and societal issues that impact their ability to bring their whole selves to their jobs. If you’re interested in sharing your story, please email us at [email protected].