Vickie Sorensen is one of the least talked about and deadliest breed of quacks out there.
Home Births are a hidden form of quackery. Wreathed in the language of female empowerment, bad statistics and anti-medical quackery home births have a rather deadly toll that is often not widely advertised and not often fought.
My “personal” anti-Obstetric nemesis is Mayer Eisenstein. A reknowned home and natural birth advocate. And a real doctor to boot. Mayer is brought out when the Natural and Home Birthers want a real doctor.
But the fact is that Mayer is a quack. A deadly quack. His untrained staff were responsible for a much higher mortality rate in his birthing centre. A staunch anti-vaccination advocate, Mayer in one case refused to give the Anti-Rh injection to a Rh -ve mother resulting in the death of her child. There are other children who have suffered birth injuries that were easily avoidable. Mayer has stopped arguing with me, because it’s impossible to argue when your foundation is shaky and your practice was quackery incarnate.
To point out how shady he was? He had a Medical Insurance from someone in Barbados and said Insurance was miniscule compared to what it should have cost to get coverage. In addition? During the trial for one of the deaths, he claimed the mother murdered her own child. He also blamed her anger for the cause of the child’s death.
He isn’t the only one. There are PROUD Home Birth Midwives who list deadly complications of pregnancy which they claim to have handled (My personal favourite? A midwife claimed she could deal with a case of Surprise Twins, Placenta Praevia and Pregnancy Induced Hypertension. 3 major issues with standard birth, two of which are indications for C-Section and one for strict medical intervention and preparation for C-Section.)
The entire dialogue boils down to “Home Births aren’t deadly, look at how few people die in home births”.
Never mind the fact that the most honest Home Birth Statistics show equal efficacy to Hospitals (remember, Doctors deal with more complications and if a Home Birth goes wrong the patient is sent to the hospital and falls on the Doctor’s stats).
Truly honest stats show a greater risk in home birth with anywhere from double to triple the risk of mortality and morbidity. If we combine anti-medicine quackery that normally associates itself with home birth such as the unwillingness to vaccinate (Rubella), untried supplements, no Vitamin K injections and anti-vaccination the number of complications spirals.
Vickie Sorensen was charged with manslaughter and two counts of reckless endangerment for the deaths caused during a “natural birth” that went wrong.
The parents were repeat customers, when the mother discovered she was pregnant again in May 2012. She decided to go to Sorensen again for pre-natal care. Sorensen estimated the due date as Feb. 18th, 2013. On December 18th, Sorensen was alleged to have failed to have transferred her client to a hospital when the woman who was pregnant with twins began early labour. Sorensen insisted that the birth take place at her Cedar City Birth Centre. What ensued was a combination of incompetence, lack of equipment and quackery.
Let us first look at the risk of the pregnancy. Twin births are almost always an indication for C-Section because the risk of complications is simply too great. Sorensen is alleged to have assured the mother that this was a routine situation for her and that she has delivered enough twins to be considered an expert and that there was no danger. This began the series of quack decisions that cost the life of one child and nearly killed the other.
On the Morning of December 17, 2012. The mother woke with slight contractions. Sorensen advised her that this was merely the babies moving into the ideal position for birth and Sorensen said that she should just follow her prescribed diet which would maintain the birth. I repeat
A prescribed diet that retards birth. Instead of cervical cerclage or promoting lung development with betamethasone and tocolytics to enable a healthy birth. She was told (over the phone no less!) that the contractions were nothing and would stop if she slept.
When they got stronger, Sorensen finally asked the mother to come down to the birth centre. The mother’s cervix was checked and she was told to go home and bathe in epsom salts. I cannot fathom the rationale.
When the mother returned to the center 2 hours later, Dr. Joe Holcomb tried to cease contractions with a tocolytic. MagSul. Magnesium Sulphate. Joe Holcolmb is not a real doctor. He is a naturopathic doctor. A quack.
Joe was inexperienced in treating with real medications and made errors with the IV. He either did not place the IV line appropriately or only gave half the recommended dose of the drug. MagSul is well known to many mothers who have hypertension. MagSul stops contractions and seizures.
Joe Holcomb was unaware of how to administer the medicine, he had to call the hospital to ask how and the dosage which he got wrong. Camille Wilcox, Sorensen’s Daughter also worked at the clinic and desperately called for another midwife as Sorensen was unavailable. Lily Ann Zerkle refused to take the case stating that the birth was high risk. She urged Wilcox and Sorensen to take the mother to the hospital to ensure safe delivery.
They wished to take the mother to the Dixie Regional Medical Center but the roads were too bad for a safe travel. When urged to use the local Cedar City Valley View Medical Center, the midwives refused stating that both Wilcox and Sorensen did not “like” that hospital. On an earlier interview at the Woman of Service, Wilcox said: “They don’t love us. They really treat our clients really horrible at this hospital. If it’s not an eminent problem then we will transfer to St. George.” I can only assume that the hospital doesn’t like taking botched home births and feels like I do. That the lay midwives push quackery that make the lives of doctors harder.
Zerkle felt concerned, so she warned Valley View staff. The first twin however was born at the Birth Centre. And was not healthy. The baby did not cry and made grunting noises as it tried to breathe. The Twin’s Grandmother was a paediatric nurse and was asked by Sorensen to assist in the CPR of the first child. The staff at the centre were inadequate to perform CPR on babies they were birthing. This alone should indicate an investigation into the rate of Cerebral Palsy at the birth centre due to the lack of CPR capacity. The grandmother mentioned the child was “blue” and cyanotic and not breathing. The baby was alive, the grandmother detected a faint heart beat.
Sorensen then proceeded to put an unknown liquid substance down the child’s throat while Wilcox began to look for an O2 bottle. There were others but they were empty or faulty. It sounds like the clinic was stacking them for show but not maintaining them. Sorensen did not have any positive airway pressure devices to help with blue babies. They had no suction equipment to clear airway either. The DaLee suction device they had was not even sized for a neonate.
It was then that 911 was called. Not before any off this.
When discussing home birth, I always explained why ambulances are not a valid answer to “what if something goes wrong”. An ambulance is an emergency service. It is a service for accidents. The natural birthers use it and claim it as a valid part of the chain of natural and home birthers. They proudly list ambulance transfers as successes. Roughly 15% of all home births end up with an ambulance transfer. 1 in 7 home births goes wrong. The call for an ambulance is not something to be relied on.
The ambulance took 10 minutes to reach there. A pretty good response time. But my question is this? How long can you hold your breath? Is it less than or greater than 10 minutes? That ten minutes is a pretty large amount of time.
When the medic showed up, he saw Sorensen performing CPR methods that were 12 years out of date and attempting to use a straw to provide suction.
The medic then proceeded to do what any medical transfer entails. A brief history. The salient and relevant points to a patient to help us understand what happened and a patient history. Mary Ann Rhodes (the Senior Medic) claimed that Sorensen did not know when the baby was born, the gestational age, duration of CPR. Sorensen says she was not present during the boy’s birth and claimed she “did not know any medical history of the mother or the baby because the parent had just walked in off the street”. In short? Sorensen attempted to absolve herself of suspicion and blame.
The medics took the baby and pulled away from the Birth Centre but stopped after the twin’s father and grandfather forced open the rear doors and pushed the mother into the ambulance. She was still bleeding heavily and still presenting an umbilical cord. The medics then began treatment on both her and the baby.
Sorensen had failed to to mention that the mother was having twins. This was only the first baby. As they drove away, the medics reported that they heard Sorensen yell for the mother to return back to the Centre to deliver the other baby. The ambulance drove on and ignored her. And this may have saved one child’s life and the mother’s.
The first twin was pronounced dead at Valley View Medical Center. The CPR was ineffective and the damage was too extensive. The second twin was delivered via C-Section and then both mother and child were transferred via emergency ambulance to the Dixie Regional Neonatal Intensive Care Unit.
Both twins were in need of a critical ICU care and the mother required a slower delivery process which included a C-Section. The lack of which cost the life of one twin. Had they been delivered at a hospital? Both twins would have had a neaar 100% chance of survival. Sorensen’s actions were negligent and reckless and she and her staff showed a complete incapacity of dealing with birth complications. She was unable or unwilling to recognise a risky birth as such and her business lacked the basic systems needed for a safe delivery.
Her current bail stands at $50,000. And despite all this? She still has supporters.
“Vickie has been a competent, compassionate midwife for over 30 years,” Jones-Porter said on the GoFundMe site. “She has seen over 1,000 babies enter safely into this world, and has served women and babies with her whole heart and soul. She is now being accused of a truly horrendous crime that her gentle hands could never commit. Please show your love and support to Vickie by contributing to her legal fees and by posting words of encouragement for her to hear.” – From her fundraiser (PLEASE don’t donate. This is quackery and deadly quackery to boot. Read the comments to look at the dialogue within the home birther community ignoring the gross incompetence. When Mayer Eisenstein did this, we struck him off as a medical doctor)
I have known Vickie for the last 3-4 years and have worked in a shared space with her and have been around her on almost a daily basis. I have observed her love and compassion for the people she serves and helps on a daily basis. Her midwifery and health skills are a cut above most general practitioners and obstetricians. I have had occasion to talk with her on occasion about certain procedures or practices that are taught and “grandfathered in” in the typical hospital and some home births. As I recall she had been abroad for training in other countries where midwifery is more common than hospital births and their mortality rates are so much lower than our american hospitals. The bottom line is that Vickie is an asset to the alternative health community and to the midwifery community. If we don’t stand up and support her it will set precedence for future threats to peoples choice to choose a birth outside of the hospital.
This is the sort of lie that home birth practitioners tell their patients. Despite all the screw ups VIckie Sorensen made on this poor mother who fell for the lies, the doctors saved her and one of her children. A cut above most GP and Ob/Gynae? Only in the bizarre world where a 17% rate of failure is considered excellent and where the infant mortality is 3 times higher than hospital delivery, yet we still claim that it is a superior form of birth.
i work in a country where midwifery was more common than medicine. The death toll was astronomical until Obstetricians began operating.
If Vickie is an asset to the alt. med then you can see the level of incompetence, ignorance and danger they pose to people whose only crime was to fall for the bullshit peddled and think Sorensen was a trained and skilled medic rather than a quack.
A Support Vickie Sorensen Facebook page was also set up about “spreading only positives, good vibes and love” and to collect “Operation Midwife Crisis” donations.
“Vickie Sorensen a prominent midwife with over 30 years experience is in need of our support, Please help spread the love for a woman who has done so much for the community. Share your birth stories, natural health stories and words of support.”
One of the biggest issues with home birth is the low APGAR scores. In India, we ask children with cerebral palsies about their birth histories. Many of them are born to lay midwives such as Vickie Sorensen. Birth asphyxia.
We don’t know the current health of the second twin. More likely due to the fact it was a C-section, the child may have a good chance of not having the disorder. Let us be clear. One child is dead and one more nearly died as well as the mother due to the actions of someone who was out of her league with regards to competence and skills and technique. A quack masquerading as medicine caused the death of a child.