East Oregonian : E.O. (Pendleton, OR) 1888-current, April 14, 2017, Page Page 3A, Image 3

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Friday, April 14, 2017
East Oregonian
Oregon woman’s midwife license revoked
Accused of falsifying birth certificates,
misconduct, practicing without a license
EO Media Group
Sherry Dress, a midwife based
in Grant County, has had her license
revoked for misconduct, but claims
she has done nothing that cannot be
Dress, 69, was accused of falsi-
fying birth certificates and submitting
a fraudulent Medicaid claim. Her
license, which expired in September
2015, was revoked.
She recently reached a settlement
to repay $20,000 to the Department
of Human Services for Medicaid
Dress is also awaiting trial in Wash-
ington on new charges of practicing
midwifery without a license — after
pleading guilty to the same in May
2016, after being issued a cease-and-
desist order by the state in 2013.
Dress said she simply could not
afford to continue fighting the Oregon
cases but plans to plead her case in
court in Washington. She said she did
not break Washington law because she
offered her services for free, accepting
only “gratuitous” reimbursements for
expenses, as a Christian ministry.
“I’m a very passionate, loving
person, and this is what I do,” she
said. “I love delivering babies, and I
love taking care of people. As a loving
Christian woman, I believe that God
called me to do this.”
Oregon license revocation
Oregon’s Board of Direct Entry
Midwifery accused Dress of falsifying
five birth certificates between May
2014 and May 2015. For each, Dress
certified the children were born at her
Canyon City residence, when they
were born in Pasco or Walla Walla,
Washington. Dress told the Blue
Mountain Eagle she did list Oregon
as the birthplace for Washington births
under “special circumstances.”
In one of the five cases, she said,
the mother planned to drive to Grant
County so Dress could bill an Oregon
insurance provider for the services,
which she could only do for births
in Oregon. However, the baby came
before the mother made it to Oregon,
so Dress said she listed Oregon so she
could still submit the bill.
Dress said, in her professional
experience, the exact place of birth is
not always listed on a birth certificate.
When she worked as a registered
nurse in California in 1971, she said
the hospital was often listed as the
birthplace, even for babies born in
ambulances, vehicles, abandoned
buildings or other places without
addresses at the Mexican border.
She also said, in two of the five
cases for babies born in June 2014,
the clients contacted her six months
later, requesting that she help acquire
the birth certificates because they had
not yet been able to get them from the
“It was wrong of me
to give them Oregon birth
certificates when I did
in fact deliver them in
Washington, but I didn’t
know it was serious,” she
said. “I did not know it was
a felony. I thought it was
more important to get them
a birth certificate.”
Dress said she wanted to
explain her actions before
the Board of Direct Entry Midwifery
“midwife to midwife” but was not
allowed to do so. The case was
referred to the Office of Administra-
tive Hearings.
Dress withdrew her request for a
hearing on the case March 7, resulting
in the final order by default including
the license revocation and about
$8,500 in penalties.
She also withdrew a request for a
hearing on another case for submitting
a false Medicaid claim, stating she was
present for a birth she did not attend
in October 2014, resulting in about
$4,400 in penalties.
Dress said she performed prenatal
and postpartum care, but the mother
delivered the baby at home when
Dress was not present and later visited
a hospital without informing her. She
said she filled out the paperwork for
global billing — including everything
from prenatal to postpartum care,
including the delivery — but it raised
a red flag when the hospital also
submitted a bill.
Dress’ attorney told her the legal
costs to continue appealing the cases
would likely cost as much as the
penalties, so she decided to move on.
Certifying the profession
The first child Dress delivered as
a midwife in Oregon was already a
teenager when the state developed a
midwife licensing program in 1993.
Dress said she helped initiate
the licensing program in Oregon so
insurance companies could reimburse
midwives as they do hospitals for
births and was one of the first to be
licensed the same year the program
began. She served on the Oregon
Board of Direct Entry Midwifery for
nine years, the last year as the chair.
Her Oregon attorney, Hermine
Hayes-Klein, said Dress had been a
traditional home birth midwife for
more than 40 years and had safely
delivered more than 3,000 babies.
“Ms. Dress was a midwife before
midwives were a legally recognized
profession. ... Like many other tradi-
tional midwives in the U.S. who have
attempted to keep up with the changing
rules and paperwork requirements of
new and evolving licensure schemes,
Ms. Dress has been accused of falling
afoul of State regulatory
compliance,” Hayes-Klein
said. “Through such allega-
tions, the skills and services
of many valuable midwives
can be laid to waste, and
maternity care options for
rural communities reduced
or eliminated.”
Dress said she believed
the goal was to end home
births so all babies are born
in a medical setting.
“It’s open season on
midwives,” she said. “The bottom line
is I’m the oldest, most experienced
midwife in the Northwest. They want
to do away with home birth.”
She said she started the home birth
movement in southern Washington
decades ago. She said she has trained
at least 12 midwives and is very
popular among her clients.
“I’m delivering babies of babies
I’ve delivered now,” she said. “There’s
never been a problem ever.”
A stillborn boy
Dress described the allegations
against her as lies and said it was
politically motivated, “fabricated from
an incident that happened a year and
a half ago” in which a mother she
assisted in Walla Walla in 2015 had
a stillbirth after arriving at a hospital
when labor during the planned home
birth failed to progress.
The mother, Sarah Magill, told
the Union-Bulletin newspaper Dress
should serve jail time for the death
and that Dress’ methods should have
raised numerous red flags.
“We should have known not to
trust someone who is in such conflict
with modern medicine,” she said.
The coroner who listed the cause
of death as prolonged labor with fetal
hypoxia — insufficient oxygen — said
he believed the child could have lived
if Dress acted differently during labor,
according to the Union-Bulletin.
Dress told the Eagle she did
nothing wrong and disputed many
of the claims in the article. She said
more than an hour of fetal monitoring
at the hospital showed a heartbeat and
no signs of oxygen deprivation. Dress
never faced charges for the stillbirth.
Previous Washington cases
Dress admitted to the Eagle the
state of Washington issued a cease-
and-desist order, prohibiting her
from practicing midwifery without
a license, in 2013. That’s when she
began listing Oregon as the birthplace
for some Washington births, she said,
because her access to Washington’s
online birth registry was revoked.
After the order was issued, Dress
claimed she obeyed the Washington
law by offering her services for free
as a Christian ministry. She said she
began requiring clients to sign a waiver
indicating that she is not licensed and
does not charge for midwifery, only
seeking reimbursement for expenses.
“I say, ‘What can you afford? This
is how much it costs for me to drive
to you,’” she said. “I’ve been paid
between $500 and $2,500 for my
expenses. If they only have $20, that’s
all they give me. I truly believe that my
patients are not my provider. I believe
that God is and that he will provide.”
Dress said her full price in Oregon
ranges from $3,900-$4,500 for
prenatal, delivery and postpartum
care, though Medicaid only pays
about $2,000.
Dress pleaded guilty to practicing
without a license in Walla Walla
District Court in May 2016, stemming
from the Magill incident, but she
maintained she “didn’t do anything
illegal.” She said her lawyer suggested
she take a plea deal minutes before a
court appearance, and regretfully, she
The terms of her two-year proba-
tion include not performing midwifery
in Washington, and she said she has
not done so — even as a gratuitous
ministry — while on probation.
Pending trial
With a new lawyer, Dress vowed
to fight the new charges against her in
Washington, two counts of practicing
without a license, one a gross misde-
meanor and the other a felony.
The Tri-City Herald reported she
pleaded not guilty March 15 to both
charges related to two Kennewick,
Washington, births whose families
were given incorrect birth certificates.
Dress said she has 50 letters of
support from previous clients, and she
is prepared to argue her case at trial
June 5 in Benton Superior Court.
In Oregon, no license is required
for a traditional midwife, who can
charge for services provided, but the
person cannot advertise as a midwife
and must disclose the lack of licensure
to the patient. Dress said she has
continued to operate as a traditional
midwife since her license expired in
2015. Even now, a young family is
staying at her residence where they
welcomed their first child Sunday
morning. The baby boy and his mother
already share a common experience.
Dress delivered the mother in a
home birth 21 years ago.
and Morrow counties and
the communities we serve
in Washington state, you’re
only a click or phone call
away from receiving urgent
medical care.”
J.C. Penney store
closure delayed
clock hasn’t struck midnight
yet for J.C. Penney in
The company plans to
close 138 stores across the
country, including locations
in Pendleton, La Grande,
The Dalles and Astoria.
Liquidation was supposed
to begin Monday, but has
instead been pushed back to
Monday, May 22.
Michelle Mizerka,
Pendleton store manager,
confirmed the news
Thursday. Corporate officials
say stronger-than-expected
traffic and sales have led to
the postponement, though
Mizerka said she could not
discuss business locally.
J.C. Penney still intends
to close the stores July 31
— about six weeks later than
originally announced.
The store on Pendleton’s
Main Street is the oldest J.C.
Penney still operating at its
original location nationwide.
The closure will affect 20
Woman’s car found
same day it was
reported stolen
Pendleton woman reported
her car stolen Wednesday
morning, and a few hours
later it was discovered sitting
in someone’s garage across
Carrie Oglesbee called
police around 7 a.m. to
report her 2007 Honda Civic
“The lady whose garage it
was in called,” said Oglesbee,
a circulation representative
for the East Oregonian. “She
said her door was slightly
open, and that’s how she
found it.”
Sgt. Tony Nelson with
Pendleton police said the
vehicle was recovered around
11 a.m. Wednesday.
Student brought
gun to Nixyaawii,
taken into custody
EO file photo
In this March file photo, a customer walks into the J.C.
Penney store on Main Street in Pendleton. The store
will remain open for another month, with liquidation
now slated for May 22.
Oglesbee said the car
was locked when the thieves
took it. She said no windows
were broken, but the car was
slightly scuffed up and she
could still put the key in the
“And there were footprints
all over the back,” she said. “I
don’t know what they were
doing walking on the car.”
Oglesbee said everything
in the trunk had been pulled
out and dug through. A few
things were stolen as well,
such as some cash and two
St. Christopher medals that
belonged to her and her late
“Those meant a lot to me,
because my husband’s passed
away,” she said.
Good Shepherd
offering 24/7
virtual doctor
Residents of Umatilla County
and Morrow County can get
their symptoms diagnosed via
smartphone after the opening
of the Good Shepherd Virtual
Care Clinic.
Good Shepherd Health
Care System announced
Thursday that the new virtual
clinic will be open 24 hours
a day, offering patients
the opportunity to receive
diagnoses and prescriptions
by clinicians via phone or
computer for $35 per session.
The session can also include
scheduling for follow-up
appointments at Good
Shepherd’s brick and mortar
clinics if needed.
Patients can begin
accessing the service
immediately on their
computer by visiting www.
On April 20 an Android
and iOS app will launch for
smartphones and tablets.
The Good Shepherd
Virtual Care Clinic uses
software, staffing and
operations services from
Carena. According to a news
release from Good Shepherd,
the providers for the virtual
clinic will follow all of
GSHCS’s practice guidelines
and will help local patients
stay in-network for care.
Jim Schlenker, chief
operating officer of GSHCS,
said in a statement that access
to affordable healthcare is
part of Good Shepherd’s
“By creating the Good
Shepherd Virtual Care Clinic,
we are able to utilize the
latest technology to meet
the health needs of our
community by providing
24/7 urgent access to health
care services,” he said. “Now,
wherever you live in Umatilla
MISSION — A student
brought a gun to Nixyaawii
Community School on
Wednesday and struggled
with officers who tried to
search him.
According to information
from principal Ryan Heinrich,
Confederated Tribes of the
Umatilla Indian Reservation
police responded to the school
after receiving an anonymous
tip that a male student may be
carrying a gun.
The student, who was not
identified, was brought into
a conference room by school
administration. A tribal
officer asked the student if he
was carrying a weapon and if
the officer could search him.
“A struggle ensued,”
wrote Heinrich.
After the student was
detained, a pistol was found
in his backpack, according
to Heinrich. The student
was taken into tribal police
“There were no threats to
any of the students,” wrote
Heinrich. “The student was
not out of the conference
room at any time during this
Heinrich said the student
is a minor, but would not
release his age.
There are about 60
students enrolled at
Nixyaawii, which is a charter
high school in the Pendleton
School District.
Roberts to leave
Desert View
View Elementary School
principal Michael Roberts
will step down at the end of
this school year, and take
a position as the director
of elementary education
curriculum at the Scottsdale
Unified School District in
Scottsdale, Arizona.
Roberts has been with the
Hermiston School District
for four years, all as the
principal of Desert View.
Previously he served as an
assistant principal in Prosser,
Washington. He is originally
from Pendleton.
“It was just one of those
opportunities I couldn’t pass
up,” Roberts said. He added
that he’s looking forward to
the new job, but was sad to
leave Desert View.
“It kind of stinks,” he said
of his departure. “The kids
and teachers at Desert View
are exceptional.”
Scottsdale Unified School
District has about 14,000
Roberts is the third
administrator to announce
they will leave the Hermiston
School District at the end of
this year. Sunset Elementary
School Principal Devin
Grigg will leave the district
to pursue a small business
in Phoenix, Arizona, and
Director of Special Programs
Jon Mishra will begin work
as the superintendent of the
Waitsburg School District in
Page 3A
Council to
hold special
meeting on
Will meet Tuesday,
6:30 p.m. at city hall
East Oregonian
The Hermiston city
council will have a
special meeting Tuesday
to decide whether to take
over operations of the
Hermiston Conference
The meeting will be at
6:30 p.m. at city hall, 180
NE Second Street, and
will include an opportu-
nity for public comment
at the beginning. The
discussion was originally
scheduled for the April
10 city council meeting
but was postponed due to
three city councilors and
the mayor being unable
to attend.
The city currently
Greater Hermiston Area
Chamber of Commerce
to run the conference
center, but city staff have
proposed not renewing
the contract for 2018 and
turning over operation of
the center to the parks
and recreation depart-
The plan that will be
presented to councilors
include offering the
chamber free office
space in the basement of
the old Carnegie Library
next to the Hermiston
Public Library. The city
is currently remodeling
the space to include
reception area and a
conference room and
hopes to someday turn
the upstairs portion into
a museum and visitors
The parks and recre-
ation offices would be
moved to the conference
center, and the building
currently in the Carnegie
Library would move
across the street to the
former parks and recre-
ation offices in city hall.
A memo to the city
council explaining the
plan and the reasoning
behind it noted that the
change was spurred
by the building of the
Eastern Oregon Trade
and Event Center.
ence/community center
operations in-house will
allow the city to take
a more direct role in
marketing the facility in
a way that compliments
the EOTEC rather than
competes with it,” the
memo said. “Addition-
ally, this will save the
chamber from being in
the very difficult posi-
tion of trying to operate
the facility at a profit
when many of the large
profitable events are
moving to the EOTEC.”
The full memo can
be found online at www.
In a news release, the
chamber stated that it
will continue its efforts
in supporting local
businesses whether it
is operating out of the
conference center or not.
McDowell at jmcdowell@