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Founding Midwife Susan Griggs APRN, CNM

Susan Griggs, APRN, CNM
Susan Griggs, APRN, CNM

Nurse Midwife Susan Griggs, a Pioneer in Midwifery for Cherokee County, Announces Retirement

Certified Nurse Midwife Susan Griggs was the only midwife in the practice when she joined Cherokee Women’s Health, as well as the only midwife delivering at Northside Hospital Cherokee.

A pioneer in midwifery for Cherokee County, local resident Susan Griggs has helped deliver more than 1,000 babies at Northside Hospital Cherokee.

First Midwife to Deliver Babies in Cherokee County

Susan was the first midwife to deliver babies in Cherokee County, a crucial service that has helped save the lives of many babies. Providing much-needed education on the importance of prenatal care and contraception – as well as the importance of midwives – Susan leaves quite a legacy.

In May 2022, the certified nurse midwife of Cherokee Women’s Health and local resident of Woodstock, stepped down from her role and into a new one: retirement.

“I would like to thank my patients for letting me take care of them. It has been a privilege to deliver over 1,000 babies at Northside Hospital Cherokee. I’ve enjoyed the opportunity to provide gynecologic services and family planning for so many women in the community.”

– Certified Nurse Midwife Susan Griggs
Susan stands with other Cherokee Women’s providers and babies they helped deliver.

Susan Joined Cherokee Women’s Health in 2007

Griggs came to the Northside Hospital-affiliated women’s health care clinic in 2007 after spending many years at Northside Atlanta and other hospitals around Atlanta.

“Dr. Litrel and I both trained at Emory at Grady Hospital. I knew he had trained with midwives, and he wanted an experienced midwife on his team. Not all doctors work with midwives or know what we’re about, so we established a good relationship from the beginning, and it was a good match. The nurses had also worked with midwives, so they were very welcoming.”

Co-workers added that it was Susan’s vision and leadership, along with Dr. Litrel, that formally established the midwifery program at Cherokee Women’s and Northside Hospital Cherokee.

“Susan and I supported each other, and we’ve worked together intimately for a long time. She has helped mentor other midwives and nurses and has helped us build a strong team of midwives to incorporate into our practice.”

Dr. Michael Litrel

Susan adds, “I was the first midwife to be established at Northside Cherokee and deliver babies. As such, there were a lot of educational needs. This was something new in Cherokee County, so I did a lot of teaching. I also learned a lot from my colleagues. At Cherokee Women’s, there was – and continues to be – a great appreciation for midwives. It was very collaborative, which is what we all strive for. We want to help each other and learn from one another, and I’ve seen that growth and change over the years. It’s very empowering.”

When asked about the role of a midwife, Susan shares, “Midwives learn and teach the natural process of labor and delivery. Just being a presence with the mother throughout the natural labor process is important. Doctors are always right there for a higher risk situation or for an emergency. Working collaboratively ensures the best outcome for the patient and baby and an overall positive birth experience.”

Susan was Instrumental in Expanding OB Services at Cherokee County Health Department

Susan also leaves behind a legacy of a long-term involvement with the Cherokee County Health Department. When she joined Cherokee Women’s Health, the Cherokee County Health Department only served women with gynecological needs. Susan was involved with the program as it expanded to include obstetrical services, which would have long-lasting, positive effects across the state of Georgia.

Cherokee Women’s Health was founded in 1993 by a prominent Atlanta OB/GYN, Dr. James Cross. He was the first OB/GYN in the county with the sole purpose of improving the infant mortality rate. Within two years, he had reduced the infant mortality and morbidity rate by almost half. Dr. Michael Litrel joined the practice a few years later and became increasingly aware that more work needed to be done to help the women in the area who were without health insurance.

“We knew we had to act and make a change because as women would show up at the hospital, their babies were dying, because they had no prenatal care at all. It was such a sad situation. Something had to be done, shares Dr. Litrel.”

Susan and the doctors at Cherokee Women’s got involved by seeing patients at the Health Department that otherwise received no health care, usually due to cost. “Eventually, Susan would be the one to go to the health department and we’d supervise,” Dr. Litrel said. “It was a very synergistic process. We trained Health Department staff so those that didn’t have health insurance could receive care.”

Susan with Dr. Michael Litrel

Cherokee Women’s was – and is – the Only Group to Deliver the Health Department’s OB Patients at Northside Hospital

Cherokee Women’s Health began delivering the Health Department’s OB patients at Northside Hospital. They were – and continue to be – the only group that cares for Health Department patients. To qualify, patients had to go to at least one pre-natal visit at the Health Department. They would then be enrolled in the state program so when they went to the hospital in labor, they would be delivered by one of Cherokee Women’s midwives or doctors.

At one time, Cherokee County had a 2.0 perinatal mortality rate, among the lowest in the state. Dr. Litrel says, “The new program that we implemented with the Health Department helped bring those numbers up dramatically. “We’re so thankful for all the people who got involved to make such a positive change in the community. It’s awesome to be a part of it.”

Cherokee County is one of the few counties in the state (out of 159) that offers free obstetrical care through the Health Department. In fact, the program was so successful that several other Georgia counties followed suit and began the same model at their Health Departments. Unfortunately, many counties in Georgia still don’t offer obstetrical care at their Health Departments – just GYN and family planning – a fact that Dr. Litrel would like to see change.

“I am proud that we have helped make such a difference in the overall infant mortality rate, not only in Cherokee County but throughout the state of Georgia,” states Dr. Litrel.

Susan’s Legacy Lives On

The legacy that Susan helped create will continue, even after her retirement.

“My colleague, fellow certified nurse midwife Susan Fischels, is now becoming involved at the Cherokee County Health Department. With her vast experience and background in public health, she has a heart for taking care of all women and will be a great asset for the women of Cherokee County. There are also many others at the Health Department who continue to work together with incredible passion and dedication.”

Certified Nurse Midwife Susan Griggs
Susan with other Nurse Midwives and Physician Assistants of Cherokee Women’s Health

Our Thanks and Gratitude to Susan

Susan was a midwife, teacher and mentor whose legacy will be remembered by those she touched throughout Cherokee County – especially all of the beautiful babies she helped bring into this world.