South­land Hospi­tal ma­ter­nity unit full

The Southland Times - - Front Page - Rachael Kelly

The house full sign was up at South­land Hospi­tal’s ma­ter­nity unit on four oc­ca­sions since April and the hospi­tal was poised to trans­fer any other women in emer­gency labour to Dunedin if needed.

None needed to be trans­ferred, but Clutha-South­land MP Hamish Walker said it was yet an­other rea­son why it would be ‘‘a reck­less de­ci­sion’’ to down­grade the Lums­den Ma­ter­nity Cen­tre.

Last week­end was the fourth time since April the South­ern Dis­trict Health Board had in­formed mid­wives of the pos­si­bil­ity of taking women in emer­gency labour to Dunedin Hospi­tal be­cause South­land Hospi­tal was un­able to cope with any more cases.

Had a woman gone into emer­gency labour in Te Anau, she could have faced a four-hour drive to Dunedin.

South­land Hospi­tal has four ded­i­cated birthing rooms and 14 an­te­na­tal/post­na­tal rooms.

South­ern Dis­trict Health Board act­ing chief ex­ec­u­tive Lisa Ge­stro said the rooms could be used flex­i­bly de­pend­ing on re­quire­ments.

Stuff un­der­stands at least one South­land woman was di­rected to Dunedin ear­lier this year to give birth be­cause In­ver­cargill’s ma­ter­nity suite was full, so asked the board how of­ten this oc­curred.

In re­sponse, Ge­stro said: ‘‘As one DHB, we are pleased to have the Women’s Health De­part­ments at the two hos­pi­tals back­ing up each other should the need arise. ‘‘If ca­pac­ity is ex­ceeded in ei­ther depart­ment, then women trav­el­ling from else­where in the dis­trict, such as Cen­tral Otago, may be di­rected to our other base hospi­tal.’’

In April this year, the board in­tro­duced a new process for no­ti­fy­ing when it was reach­ing ca­pac­ity.

Since then it has been used four times in South­land.

Ge­stro said the DHB was not aware of any women hav­ing to trans­fer be­tween fa­cil­i­ties, or of any lead ma­ter­nity carer hav­ing to di­vert to an­other pri­mary birthing unit as a re­sult of this.

‘‘Such de­ci­sions are taken af­ter care­ful consideration and full con­sul­ta­tion be­tween the mid­wifery and ob­stet­ric teams at the two hos­pi­tals to de­ter­mine the best course of ac­tion, taking a dis­trict wide view, with women’s safety as the pri­mary con­cern.’’

Health Min­is­ter David Clark would not com­ment about ma­ter­nity ser­vices at South­land Hospi­tal, or whether the sit­u­a­tion meant the Lums­den Ma­ter­nity Cen­tre should stay open, say­ing ‘‘this is an op­er­a­tional mat­ter for South­ern DHB to com­ment on’’.

The board an­nounced last month that the Lums­den Ma­ter­nity Cen­tre is to be down­graded from a birthing cen­tre to a ma­ter­nal and child hub un­der its new In­te­grated Pri­mary Ma­ter­nity Sys­tem of Care.

The North­ern South­land Health Com­pany, which runs the cen­tre, is seek­ing le­gal ad­vice about the down­grade.

Walker said Lums­den is equipped to take over­flow from South­land Hospi­tal if both In­ver­cargill and Win­ton are full.

‘‘Lums­den is a re­mote ma­ter­nity cen­tre and ser­vices a large area be­tween Kingston and Rivers­dale right up to Te Anau.

‘‘Clos­ing or down­grad­ing the unit will leave a mas­sive hole in the re­gion’s ma­ter­nity ser­vices.’’

Lisa Ge­stro

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