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As I was applying for my adaptive reuse permit, I originally wrote this letter to the Allentown Association, requesting their support in my intended use of the Coit House. The letter circulated several other places and has become an excellent summary of my intended use of the Coit House.

Fika Midwifery is a small, midwife-owned private practice that provides prenatal and postpartum care, home and hospital birth, and well-person care to the women of Buffalo. Our vision is to create the best possible holistic healthcare experience for women, and our mission is as follows:

“Inspired by the spirit of modern feminism, we intuitively support women through attentive partnership and holistic care that ultimately creates space for personal empowerment and invigorates communities. As the change agent of the holistic healthcare experience, we are innovative thinkers, passionate midwives, and provide the best possible healthcare and wellness experience for betterment of humanity.”

Originally from the suburbs of Buffalo (and graduate of Nardin Academy and Canisius College), I moved to Chicago in 2011 to become a midwife. Six years later, in 2017, my husband, Charles Winkler–also a native Buffalonian–and I excitedly relocated back to the Elmwood Village with our two children. I started Fika Midwifery in 2017 in attempt to fill the significant void in accessing midwifery model care and support for physiologic childbirth in the WNY area.

In the spirit of midwifery model care, we keep our practice small in order to provide our clients with highly individualized care and support them through the labor process. Unlike most other healthcare providers that spend 5-10 minutes with their patients to keep up with a full waiting room, we spend 30-60 minutes building a relationship and providing education at every appointment, and our clients rarely wait to be seen. We currently perform about 8-15 births per month, approximately evenly split between planning home birth and Oishei Children’s Hospital. We anticipate that a few clients each month will plan to birth at the Coit House. Our regular office hours occur four days a week, with about 6-12 patients scheduled each day. Each birth is attended by one midwife, one nurse, and often a doula.

When I began Fika Midwifery, all appointments took place in the clients home. While we are unable to continue providing that service due to increased volume and challenges with Buffalo winters, we are committed to providing a home-like setting that is congruent with our belief that most transitions women go through, from puberty to pregnancy to menopause, are normal physiologic processes that rarely require medical intervention. For clarification, we are not attempting to turn the Coit House into a healthcare facility or a birth center; we are merely offering our clients the opportunity to experience home birth in a home that is not actually their own. For this reason, it is possible to utilize the Coit House exactly as is, and we can reassure the neighborhood that we will not disrupt them with delivery trucks, large volumes of patients, loud noises, or significant staff.

We anticipate that less than a handle of people will be present in the Coit House at any given time–no more than a large family–and therefore do not anticipate parking concerns. We do intend to ask the Family Dollar immediately next door if renting a few parking spots would be possible in order to minimize the amount of walking our expectant patients have to do, particularly in the winter months. We will ensure that the gardens and yard are well-maintained during the summer months and that the sidewalk is shoveled during the winter months, even on the weekend when we may not be occupying the property, as we reside at Norwood & Bryant, in close proximity to the Coit House.

The Coit House may often be vacant overnight, so to ensure protection of the property as well as our patients when it is occupied, we intend to exceed requirements for number of smoke detectors, install a security system, and will invest in service that will alert both us and emergency responders in the event of an alarm.

My husband and I are committed to participating in the simultaneous effort to both revitalize and maintain the historical integrity of the City of Buffalo. We understand the immense value the community places on the Coit House as a major historical landmark and will be glad to open the Coit House for tours or events as requested. We intend to keep the Coit House fully furnished as a residential property and will seek professional assistance from an interior designer, historic preservationist, and architect as needed so that the interior continues to be a beautiful reflection of Buffalo’s history and growth.

In talking to the current owner, I’ve come to understand that seven babies have been born in the Coit House–likely all over 100 years ago before birth largely moved into the hospital setting. Women remember the way that they were treated during their pregnancy and birth forever. We are deeply moved at the opportunity to offer our clients Buffalo’s oldest home as the location of their baby’s birth.