A popular midwife practice whose partnership with Mercy Medical Center is ending because of rising malpractice costs has found a new home at the University of Maryland St. Joseph Medical Center in Towson.

Kathleen Slone CNM & Associates will move to new offices on York Road this week and begin taking patients June 23.

Mercy told the midwives in October it was severing ties after two high-profile medical malpractice cases, though unrelated directly to the hospital, had driven up the cost of insurance and that it was looking for ways to alleviate the financial pressure.

Midwives at the practice perform water births, natural births and other techniques not used by traditional obstetricians.

The midwives had worried about whether they would be able to find another hospital partner because of the cost and feared women would have less access to care. Mercy covered the more than $50,000 a year in malpractice insurance costs for each midwife at Kathleen Slone.

"We are relieved and thrilled that we are able to continue to see patients," said Kim McCauley, office manager at Kathleen Slone.

McCauley said the insurance was cheaper in Baltimore County than in the city.

Officials with St. Joseph said they were not concerned about malpractice insurance costs, which they will pay for the group. The relationship allows the hospital to expand on current women's health programs and gives women more choices for a birth experience, officials added.

andrea.walker@baltsun.com

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