MCHC Health Centers is pleased to welcome the newest member of its Care for Her team: Certified Nurse Midwife Kate Hylan, who is currently accepting new patients. Care for Her provides women’s healthcare, including prenatal care and childbirth support, to patients in Lake and Mendocino Counties.
Although Hylan and her husband are originally from the East Coast, they’ve spent most of their adult lives in Southern California. However, Hylan said, “Having spent so much time in Eureka and Fortuna (in Humboldt County) during my training, we knew we wanted to get back to Northern California…And I’ve had my eye on Care for Her for a while because this is exactly the type of practice and patient population I want to work with.” In a sense, this is a homecoming for Hylan, since she “caught her first baby” while training under Certified Nurse Midwife Dana Estevo, who is now a Care for Her provider.
Hylan calls midwifery her “calling” and can pinpoint the moment she knew it. After graduating from college with a degree in evolutionary biology, Hylan joined the Peace Corps as an agricultural volunteer and was sent to West Africa. At that time, she planned to pursue a career in conservation or ecological sustainability.
When she arrived in Kayemor, Senegal, she was encouraged to integrate into the community where she would be serving, so when the local “matron” (maternity provider) asked her to visit the weekly clinic, Hylan readily agreed. Like many maternity providers throughout Senegal, Adama Gueye she was put in charge of prenatal care for her whole community (in her case, a population of 18,000 people) after receiving a weekend’s worth of training.
Hylan had no idea that when Gueye invited her to put her hands on a pregnant belly and witness her first birth, her life would be changed forever. At that moment, Hylan said she knew, “This is it. This is what I am meant to do.”
Since that time, she has dedicated her professional life to caring for patients and empowering women to make choices about their care. She completed her studies to become a family nurse practitioner and certified nurse midwife at Vanderbilt University and worked in many different settings, from birthing centers to military bases to a refugee camp in Tijuana, Mexico, where her team represented the migrants’ only access to healthcare. She has also worked all over the country, from Massachusetts to Tennessee to California. Regardless of the geography, Hylan sought out non-profit health practices, including federally qualified health centers like MCHC Health Centers, where patients are assured care regardless of their financial status.
She sees her primary role as that of health educator, and she is deeply invested in helping women understand the options available to them. She also appreciates learning from her patients, saying, “I am amazed by the strength and resilience of these women.” Whether she is meeting with patients during an office visit or supporting them through the birthing process, Hylan allows her patients to lead the way whenever appropriate. “All women should be able to be in control of their own bodies,” she said.
Care for Her Certified Nurse Midwife Devery Montano was part of the team who hired Hylan. She said Hylan “impressed us all with her energy and obvious desire to provide comprehensive women’s health care here in Mendocino County. Kate’s previous midwifery experience at other practices has well prepared her to seamlessly join the Care for Her team.”
Care for Her is part of MCHC Health Centers, which includes Hillside Health Center and Dora Street Health Center in Ukiah, Little Lake Health Center in Willits and Lakeview Health Center in Lakeport. It is a community-based and patient-directed organization that provides comprehensive primary healthcare services as well as supportive services such as education and translation that promote access to healthcare.
When Hylan is not caring for patients, she spends time with her family enjoying the outdoors, especially among the redwoods.