Duplicating the level of care offered at Charlotte Jean Maternity Hospital will not be easy, an Alexandra mother of-five says.
That is Helen Ryan’s thought as maternity services in Central Otago look set to return to Dunstan Hospital after 23 years following a Southern District Health Board (SDHB) decision last week to site facilities at the hospital and at Wanaka and close the Charlotte Jean facility.
Mrs Ryan said three of her five children were born at the Ventry St maternity hospital, but four had received direct care there.
‘‘One and two were born in Charlotte Jean, number three was an arranged home birth, four was in Charlotte Jean, five was in Dunedin Hospital due to complications but transferred back to Charlotte Jean.’’
Replicating the care and the family atmosphere of Charlotte Jean was important to her going forward, and her background in social work meant she recognised the importance of community liaison with other support services and connections in the community, she said.
‘‘It takes a village and that really is Charlotte Jean’s philosophy. It goes above and beyond what people realise.’’
There was often a feeling of disconnection for mothers who gave birth in a hospital after they left, Mrs Ryan said.
‘‘It is about support for mums beyond when they leave and Charlotte Jean did that because they really cared.’’
Charlotte Jean Maternity Hospital manager Roger O’Brien in a statement said it was a new beginning.
However, it meant services had come full circle.
Charlotte Jean was asked by Dunstan Hospital to take over maternity services for Central Otago and Wanaka from 1997, Mr O’Brien said.
‘‘In the 20 years since then it has been a huge privilege for us to provide this service for the community.’’
He said he was pleased the SDHB had approved of two new primary maternity facilities in Central Otago and Wanaka, and the latter would significantly reduce travel times and help address the concerns raised by women and midwives during the consultation process about the shape of future maternity services in the region.
‘‘It will be sad to lose the Charlotte Jean but we are confident that the ethos of what Jenny O’Brien established in 1997 will endure.’’
The skill, dedication, and care of staff at the maternity hospital was ‘‘next level’’, and he thanked the community for its support over the years and during the consultation process.
Central Otago Health Services Limited (COHSL) chief executive Kathryn de Luc also praised Charlotte Jean.
‘‘We would also like to acknowledge the work and dedication over many years of the Charlotte Jean Maternity Hospital serving the needs of our local communities,’’ Dr de Luc said.
COHSL supported the SDHB’s decision and in the coming weeks would work with the heath board, lead maternity carers (LMCs) and midwives to explore COHSL partnering with others to become a provider of primary birthing services.
‘‘It is important any solutions developed will ensure the continued delivery of safe high quality primary care birthing services is maintained.’’