‘ Hospital-in-hotel’ for postnatal care
From Health cover
If no medical problems arise, women can choose to spend the last two nights of that stay in the Sofitel, where about half a dozen rooms have been fitted with an extra sink and a corner room has been converted into a midwives’ station and office.
Women who take up the offer are whisked from the hospital to the hotel, about a 10-minute drive away, in the hotel’s BMW 7-series limousine. While at the hotel they receive the same coaching from midwives in settling and breastfeeding their baby as they would at the hospital.
While the room-service meals are included in the costs that are picked up by the health fund, the various other luxury services offered by five-star hotels, including movies, massages, shoe shining and laundry, are extra, and must be paid separately by the mother on checking out.
We started it because there was so much demand to have a baby at Frances Perry — we couldn’t fit all the mums in,’’ Mr Page said.
‘‘ By doing this, it gives us extra beds so we can take more mothers in, without decreasing their length of stay.’’
In the three years of the scheme, 25 per cent of women giving birth at the hospital had taken up the hotel option, Mr Page said. Over the same period, three mothers had required transfer back to the hospital for some medical reason, he said. Returns to hospital prompted by the need to manage a medical issue in a baby — such as jaundice, a relatively common postnatal issue — was a bit more common, necessitating the return of 10 to 20 babies out of the 3000 births, he said. But none of these cases resulted in an adverse outcome.
Michael Roff, executive director of the Australian Private Hospitals Association, said at least two other private hospitals — the Epworth Freemasons in Melbourne and Ashford Private Hospital in Adelaide — had introduced similar ‘‘ hospital in the hotel’’ schemes.
‘‘ The hospitals are happy with it and the patients are happy with it — and the health fund is happy because it ends up costing them less,’’ Mr Roff said. ‘‘ It’s part of something that we will continue to see grow, for patients who aren’t quite ready to go home and perhaps need some monitoring, but don’t need all the resources of an acute hospital bed.’’
Mr Page said the service was not a moneysaving option, claiming that the costs were similar, and its advantage lay in allowing extra capacity that could be accessed only when it was needed.
In the future, it was possible it might be expanded to other types of patients, such as gynaecological surgery, and others that were at low risk for post-operative complications.
‘‘ There would be other surgical specialties where it could well apply for the back end of your stay in hospital,’’ Mr Page said. ‘‘ We are looking at that.
‘‘ My personal opinion is that it works for a hospital where you have high demand for your beds — I don’t know that it would work for a hospital that’s half-full,’’ he said.
A new idea is born: Zelinda Hoyle with her four-day-old daughter Coco at the Sofitel Hotel