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Bush Foundation Grant to Launch Aspirus St. Luke's and Doulas of Duluth’s Transformational Program for Expectant Parents

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A $1.7 million grant from the Bush Foundation is funding an innovative new program that will enhance access to doula support for birthing families at St. Luke’s Birthing Center. Called Plus One Doula Program, the initiative seeks to enhance birth equity, as well as support healthier pregnancies and deliveries throughout our region.

The Plus One Doula Program is a collaborative program between St. Luke’s and Doulas of Duluth. It offers all expectant parents who are less than 28 weeks gestation, receiving prenatal care and planning to deliver at St. Luke’s Birthing Center a partial scholarship to hire a doula through Doulas of Duluth. Full scholarships are available to those experiencing financial hardship. This program is available to all applicants who meet the necessary criteria regardless of race, ethnicity, cultural or socioeconomic background.

“We are honored to collaborate with the Bush Foundation, St. Luke’s Foundation, Doulas of Duluth, care providers, community and state partners to make this possible for our patients.” St. Luke’s Director of Women’s & Children’s Services Lori Swanson, RN, PHN, said.

A doula is a trained professional who provides support, information, resources, and emotional and physical assistance to expectant parents during pregnancy, labor, birth, and postpartum. “This is an incredible opportunity for families in our community to advance birth equity,” Dana Morrison, owner of Doulas of Duluth said. “Having a doula provides valuable support that can lead to fewer complications during labor and a better overall experience during childbirth.”

"We know that access to health care in rural communities continues to be a challenge," says Mattie DeCarlo, grantmaking officer at Bush Foundation. "We believe the doula program at Aspirus St. Luke's has the potential to transform and advance birth equity in Northeastern Minnesota and across marginalized populations. While more than half a dozen hospital-based doula programs exist across the nation, there isn't a model like Aspirus St. Luke's. As they develop and test this new model, it could change access to doulas around the region and beyond."

“We’re excited to develop and launch this model of a sustainable, hospital-based program,” St. Luke’s Doula Coordinator Mallory Cummings, RN, PHN, said. “It will be a great resource for our patients. I am thrilled to facilitate and support an incredible perinatal journey that meets their needs and benefits their health.”

A launch party to celebrate the new program will be held at St. Luke’s OB-GYN Associates on Monday, February 12 from 5-7 pm. To learn more, visit