The Southern District Health Board (SDHB) has given a “boost” to its maternity care services in Wanaka by way of two new midwives and after-hours/emergency relief midwife service; however, what kind of boost does the community want to see in its SDHB-provided Maternal and Child Hub?
Save Our Wanaka Midwives (SOWM), a group founded when the town was reduced to one full-time midwife, polled its Facebook followers to gauge the town’s greatest needs in order for continued progression.
A free, routine blood taking service, a visiting obstetrician accessible in person and through telecommuting, lactation consultants and support clinics, birthing and postnatal rooms, plentiful clinic space and consultation rooms, postnatal care support and staffing, heli pad, lounge room space and more midwifery support and funding for continued education were some of the suggestions put forward.
“I do think that we are making some forward progress with the hub, however we are still very unclear on what services the hub itself will offer, how much money the DHB is willing to invest and what will change from the current situation. It needs to have the capacity to be upgraded to a Primary Birthing unit because we feel that is what we really need here in Wanaka,” said SOWM spokesperson Kristi James.
James said her group hopes to have answers on the space by end of February; however, the hub’s concept and included services are still to be determined. “We are hoping the DHB listens to our needs and that the new hub is actively available to mothers and whanau in the next six months.”
Despite SOWM’s lobbying to SDHB for a primary birthing unit as part of its review of maternity services, the town received a maternal hub, which is a facility below the birthing unit tier and can be used for births in an emergency. Wanaka’s current closest birthing unit is roughly 84km away in Alexandra, which has raised a red flag with concerns that SDHB’s maternity plan does not measure up to midwives and mothers’ true needs.
“Something we are exploring is setting up a house in Dunedin that women could use when they are waiting to go into labour. Wouldn't it be amazing to have a home to offer, even at a discounted rate, for women who would otherwise have to drive in labour three and a half hours all the way to Dunedin? We would like to see if there are any generous people out there with access to a house in Dunedin that might be willing to offer it on a roster situation,” said James.
More: Progress for midwives