Meet The Midwives
Michele Burtner, CNM, MS (Director)
I have always had a fascination with the miracle of birth and I knew early on that I wanted to become a midwife. After receiving my BS in Nursing from the University at Buffalo, I practiced as a labor & delivery nurse at Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center in Hanover, NH. After this time, I received my Nurse-Midwifery education at Oregon Health & Science University and have practiced midwifery in a variety of settings which include Indiana, Portland, OR, and now here in Rochester. I love taking care of women throughout the life span and offering support during labor & birth. I also have a special interest in the breastfeeding process and helping women succeed with it. When not at work, I enjoy spending time with my husband and three young children, hiking, gardening, biking, and reading.
Elizabeth Cooper, CNM, EdD, FACNM
I joined the faculty of the department of OB/GYN in 1975 as the first nurse-midwife to practice in Rochester. A nursing graduate of the University of Texas, I completed my midwifery education at Columbia University in 1971, and my doctorate in Higher Education for Health Professions from the University of Rochester in 1992. As the founder and director of the URMC midwifery practice since its inception twenty years ago, I remain an active clinician in the practice. I also am involved in providing medical and midwifery education, as well as several research studies. My areas of expertise include care of the developmentally disabled, women in the peri-menopause, as well as group prenatal care. Outside of the practice I enjoy gardening, reading, traveling, and spending time with my family at our cottage on Keuka Lake. Beth retired from practice in October 2014, though remains involved in the OB/GYN department.
Tammy Farnham, CNM, MS
I have been a women's health care provider since 1999. Initially, I practiced as a Family Nurse Practitioner in a rural women’s health clinic in Wyoming County. It is here that found my love for this field and I decided to further my education and become a midwife. I earned my Post-Master's Degree in Nurse-Midwifery from the Institute of Midwifery, Women and Health (Philadelphia,PA) in 2003.
I have been caring for women in the Rochester area since 2004, initially working at Anthony Jordan Health Center and then in February 2007 I began my career with the URMC Midwifery Group. I have a special interest in working with adolescents and a strong background in gyn care.
I am a Western New York native, born and raised in Buffalo. My husband and I relocated to Rochester in 2006. We have a beautiful little boy and baby girl who continually brighten each and every day! Outside of the practice, I enjoy cooking, gardening, books (when I have a chance!) and spending time with family and friends.
Being a midwife is an amazing, rewarding experience and I am so fortunate to share these precious moments with the families we care for! Tammy works per diem for the Midwifery practice.
Alexis L. Gee, CNM
I have always been fascinated by pregnancy and childbirth, and knew I would like to work with women. I realized being a midwife was the career for me when I had midwives as professors in my women's studies courses at the University of Michigan. Learning about the midwifery model of care, it was clear what my career should be. I completed my Bachelor's degree and went on to Vanderbilt University to complete my Masters of Science in Nursing in 2011. I could not be happier with the path I selected, and I consider it a privilege to be a part of the most precious moments in women's lives and to empower women to make choices in their own healthcare.
I am originally from Traverse City, Michigan and excited to explore everything upstate New York has to offer. In my free time I enjoy walking my dogs, reading, shopping, RV camping, yoga, and exercise.
Pamela Jurich-Wright, CNM, MS
Pamela Jurich- Wright has been a certified nurse midwife for 14 years. She is a graduate of the University of Rochester with her master’s degree and received her bachelor of science in Nursing from Nazareth College of Rochester. Pam has practiced Midwifery in rural clinic settings as well as private practice. She has worked for the URMC Midwifery for 4 years now. Pam currently lives with her family in Victor NY and loves cooking and gardening, following the NY Yankees and traveling with her husband.
Heather Lane, CNM, MSN
I have thoroughly enjoyed the wide range of experiences that I have had over the past several years as a midwife. From traveling to South Africa as an instructor to caring for women from Cape Verde and Puerto Rico, each woman and her family has taught me important lessons I use everyday I practice as a midwife. I enjoy that each day is different – from seeing patients in the office prenatally, to counseling about birth control, to “catching” babies – I can be assured that each day will offer new challenges and valuable moments.
Caitlin LeGros, CNM
My interest in women’s health started with the birth of my brother at age 3 and coalesced during my service with the Peace Corps in Madagascar. I was lucky enough to work with amazing midwives and witness how intimate, protected and safe birth could be. I earned my Nursing degree from the University of Pennsylvania, worked as a Labor and Delivery nurse in Philadelphia, then returned to U Penn for my Nurse Midwifery degree in 2010. I spent my final semester in New Zealand working with Maori, Tongan and Samoan families- where the majority of births are with midwives and un-medicated. I love providing individualized care to women and their families throughout the life span and am particularly interested in evidence-based midwifery and global health.
I live in the city of Rochester with my family and enjoy visiting my 98 year-old Grandmother in Lyons, where she helps me perfect my pie baking.
Melinda Pisaro, BSN, MSN
I worked with my first Midwife at St Mary’s hospital several years ago. I found that the Midwifery model of care was extraordinary and one of a kind. It was that experience and the reputation of Beth Cooper that sparked my interest in becoming a Midwife. I received my BSN from Roberts Wesleyan in 2000 and my MSN from SUNY Stony Brook in 2002. I worked Labor & Delivery for 7+ years when I decided Midwifery was for me. I enjoyed the mother / baby experience and wanted to contribute further to bettering that experience for women and the adolescents. In my spare time, I love to cook and bake. I enjoy spending time with the children of my children!
Rebecca Skovgaard, CNM, MS
I’m Becky Skovgaard. I have a bachelor’s degree from Bennington College in Vermont and then another in nursing from Case Western Reserve University. I attended Georgetown University for my midwifery education and worked there as midwife and faculty after that. I have been with URMC Midwifery since 1994.
I’ve been privileged to work with a midwife who I believe is the world expert on the topic of the timing of cord clamping, and have published a little on this. (Short answer: keep those scissors off that cord.) I also write regularly for Peri-FACTS, an ongoing, international educational program for obstetrics professionals that is based at the University of Rochester.
I have two kids in college and one in the Navy (and a husband who teaches nearly every biology student at the U of R). I grew up in Montana and I guess that’s why I spend a lot of time outdoors. I believe two things are true if you live in Rochester: your garden can never have too many spring bulbs, and your yard will never have enough Christmas lights. When I’m not too busy I write romance. And, oh yeah, I like waiting around for babies to come.
Jenney Anne Stringer, CNM, MSN
I obtained my undergraduate degree from Hamilton College and, after working as a doula for several years, went on to receive my nursing and midwifery degrees at Oregon Health and Science University.
I have experience attending births in a variety of settings including university hospitals, rural community hospitals, birth centers and home births. Supporting couples through their pregnancies, labors, and births is one of my passions and greatest joys in life. I also take great satisfaction in empowering women to find contraceptive methods that work for them.
I am an upstate NY native and I just recently moved to Rochester with my husband. In my free time, I love to cook, garden, practice yoga, ski, and spend time with family and friends.
Helene Thompson-Scott, CNM, MS
My interest in birth started at the age of 7 when my cat went into labor and had kittens in my bedroom and I stayed up all night with her. My professional midwifery path began in Chicago after graduating from West Suburban School of Nursing, then Rush University, I worked 9 years in Labor and Delivery. I moved back to my hometown of Rochester and worked at Strong Hospital's birth centers and later with the Rochester Adolescent Maternity Program (RAMP). I completed Masters/Midwifery program at the University of Rochester in 1996 and have been with URMC Midwifery since then.
Initially I believed midwifery was mostly about birth, over the years I have seen how the the health of women of all ages can be improved by a midwifery approach that includes contraception, gyn care and colposcopy services for abnormal PAP screening. I have enjoyed learning and adapting my skills to meet the needs of women and their families.
I live in the city of Rochester with my husband, have 2 grown sons, enjoy city life and am involved politically and socially. I enjoy listening to music and being outdoors; if I can do both at the same time even better.
Jo Wrona, CNM, MS
My inspiration for becoming a health care provider came during my years in Mali, West Africa, as a Peace Corps Volunteer. Afterward, I became a Registered Nurse and then a Certified Nurse Midwife (SUNY Health Science Center, Brooklyn NY, 1992).
I feel blessed to have worked with a wide variety of women and their families, especially supporting them in their births, as a guest in a home, birth center, or hospital labor room. Being a part of the URMC Midwifery group is excellent! This team of midwives gives great care to the women of Rochester and that gives me great confidence and support too.
It's a real pleasure to attend births at Highland Hospital. The staff in the Family Maternity Center ensures excellent safety but also, of the three local hospitals I've worked with, it gives the best family support!