Eunice Katherine Macdonald Ernst “Kitty”, 95 of Perkiomenville, passed away peacefully at home on December 28, 2021. She was the wife of the late Albert T Ernst Sr who died in 2011. Born in Waltham, MA, she was the daughter of the late John D. and Esther C. Macdonald. She lived her life by the words of Winston Churchill, “Never, never, never give-up.”
A certified nurse-midwife, Kitty was a graduate of Kentucky’s Frontier School of Midwifery with a Master’s Degree in Public Health from Columbia University and an honorary Doctor of Science from Case Western Reserve University. For more than 60 years she was a pioneer in the field of nurse-midwifery as the youngest president, a vice president and more recently the oldest president of the American College of Nurse-Midwives (ACNM). As a practitioner, she served families in capacities ranging from public health nurse-midwife on horseback in the mountains of Kentucky to director of the nurse-midwifery education program at Columbia Presbyterian Medical Center, in the heart of New York City.
Kitty led the development of the successful family-centered maternity care program provided by an obstetrician/nurse-midwife team at the Salvation Army Booth Maternity Center in Philadelphia, established a program of education for foreign-trained nurse-midwives to qualify for national certification and licensure to practice, originated the project to empower parents in an education program of Self-Care/Self Help Education Initiated in Childbirth, assisted in the planning and implementation of the demonstration Childbearing Center at Maternity Center Association in New York (MCA) and led the way in inspiring and coaching the many birth centers that followed. In the early development of the birth center concept she conducted a national on-site survey of freestanding birth centers and provided consultation for the study of outcomes in those centers.
As the founding director of the American Association of Birth Centers (AABC), she continued to be a leader in the effort to bring birth centers into the mainstream of health care delivery, establish national standards, and institute the Commission for Accreditation of Birth Centers. She was project director for the First National Collaborative Study of Freestanding Birth Centers published in the New England Journal of Medicine. She early on identified the need to exponentially expand the opportunity for nurse-midwifery education and was the founding director of the Frontier Nursing University’s (FNU) Community-based Nurse-midwifery Education Program (CNEP), a ground-breaking distance learning program for nurse-midwives. She authored numerous articles on the potential of midwifery in the delivery of care to childbearing families and was the recipient of numerous leadership awards. She served as the FNU Mary Breckinridge Chair of Midwifery until her retirement earlier this year. She never ceased to be an ambassador for midwifery.
Kitty is survived by her children, Rosemary Senjem and her husband Marc of Woodbury, MN, Ted Ernst and his wife Kelly of Blandon, Kate Bauer of Perkiomenville, her “adopted” daughter Susan Stone of Berea, KY; and her beautiful grandchildren Nicholas Ernst and his partner Elise, Darby and Sophie Bauer, Lara Senjem Villavicencio, Sam Senjem and his wife Diane, four great grandchildren, and many nieces and nephews. In addition to her parents and husband, she was preceded in death by: five brothers, John, Malcom, James, Robert, and Kenneth Macdonald; three sisters, Rosemary Messerlian, Ann Stutenroth, and Sheila Macdonald; and her son-in-law, Don Bauer.
A Celebration of Kitty’s Life will be held at a date to be determined. To stay informed, please sign up for updates with this google form: https://forms.gle/RCayEYQmumwowuD97. In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made to the AABC Foundation, Changemaker Fund (https://www.aabcfoundation.org/changemaker). Falk Funeral Homes & Crematory in Pennsburg is
in charge of her arrangements. To offer online condolences, visit her “Book of Memories” at falkfuneralhomes.com