Building home to years of history


Nestled in an established garden and home to a pool, this property will eventually be on the market in Alexandra.

As normal as it sounds, there is a catch — the pool is for birthing purposes and is located in one of the bedrooms.

The solid brick abode, which is home to Charlotte Jean Maternity Hospital, will be placed on the market after the Southern District Health Board recently announced the options being considered for a restructured birthing unit would not include the Alexandra facility.

Twenty-three years of history will come to an end when it closes.

Exactly when that would be had not yet been confirmed, manager Roger O’Brien said.

The preferred option of restructured maternity care in the district would include a new primary birthing unit in Wanaka and one at Dunstan Hospital in Clyde, supplemented by hubs in Ranfurly and Cromwell.

Alternative options included: opening a new facility in Cromwell, decommissioning Charlotte Jean Maternity Hospital and supplementing services with hubs in Wanaka, Alexandra and Ranfurly; or opening a new primary birthing unit at Dunstan Hospital, decommissioning Charlotte Jean Maternity Hospital and supplementing services with hubs in Wanaka and Ranfurly.

All options included emergency birthing facilities at Lawrence.

‘‘The Southern DHB has said that if there are going to be two facilities it could be two to three years, but longer if they need to consider the single site option.’’

Once an end date was in sight, the building would be ‘‘sold to someone who wants a birth pool in their bedroom’’, he said.

The building would also come with an established garden, featuring a grapevine and roses — many of which had been gifted by families of women who had given birth there.

Charlotte Jean was established in 1997 by the late Jenny O’Brien, who was helped by her husband Robin and their daughter Sue Miller.

Jenny and Sue were both midwives who wanted to create a homely environment where partners were encouraged to stay overnight and be part of those first few days, Roger, who is Jenny’s son, said.

‘‘Jenny recognised how important this was for families in giving them a good start.’’

Robin said it took the family a year to meet certification requirements.

The facility opened in November 1997, about the time the then government, led by Helen Clark, approved a new system of maternity care that enabled midwives to be lead maternity carers.

Roger along with his wife Sue O’Brien joined the facility in 2007 as Jenny and Robin prepared to retire.

Roger became manager and Sue quality co-ordinator.

Charlotte Jean was loved by many in the wider Central Otago community, which Roger credits to Jenny, who was adopted.

He believed her start in life shaped her caring nature, which ‘‘flowed’’ throughout Charlotte Jean.

‘‘As is the way in life, it is not the building, it is teiwi i te iwi, the people, the people, the people.

‘‘This caring ethos has continued and is achieved through our amazing staff whose skill, dedication and care is next level.’’

He thanked all the families who had stayed at Charlotte Jean over the years and said the new maternity facility, or facilities were an exciting opportunity for the community.

‘‘We will help to ensure there is a seamless transition from one service to another.’’

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