Kristi James’ story could be raw material for a TV medical drama.

In 2019, Ms James was leading the charge to get better facilities for expectant mums in Central Otago, only to end up giving birth on the floor of her midwife’s office in Wanaka.

It sounds staged.

But, it was far from intended.

A year on, Ms James is still on her crusade to get better facilities for parents and midwives.

Last week brought her and everyone else involved one step closer after a meeting with Southern District Health Board chief executive Chris Fleming to discuss four options being considered.

The options are:
1. A new facility in Cromwell with hubs in Wanaka, Alexandra and Ranfurly;
2. A new primary birthing unit at Dunstan Hospital with hubs in Wanaka and Ranfurly;
3. A new primary birthing unit in Wanaka, keeping Charlotte Jean Maternity Hospital, Alexandra, with hubs in Ranfurly and Cromwell;
4. A new primary birthing unit in Wanaka, Charlotte Jean to be co-located with Dunstan Hospital, with hubs in Ranfurly and Cromwell.

All options include emergency birthing facilities in Lawrence.

‘‘For mums, the closer the better, of course,’’ Ms James said.

An advocate of Charlotte Jean Maternity Hospital co-located with Dunstan Hospital is Hawea Flat mother-of-two Emma Morgan.

Almost 10 years ago Ms Morgan gave birth to her son, Max Gollop (9), on her bathroom floor.

Her Alexandra-based midwife, who was in Queenstown when Ms Morgan went into labour, did not make it to the birth in time.

The experience was quite the opposite for Ms Morgan’s oldest child, 12-year-old Jack Gollop, who was born at Charlotte Jean Maternity Hospital.

‘‘That service is amazing when you’ve got a non-complicated birth,’’ Ms Morgan said.

She supported the maternity hospital’s relocation if that was the best option, so long as the service remained the same.

‘‘It would be a shame to lose it,’’ she said.

Ms James, said, ideally, she too would ‘‘love’’ to see a primary birthing unit in Wanaka so the midwife’s office no longer needed to be considered a ‘‘maternal hub’’.

Calling the office a maternal hub was a stretch, and she believed if there was any further investment in Wanaka it should be for a primary birthing unit.

Alternatively, if a primary birthing unit was not allocated to Wanaka, she believed it would make sense to relocate Charlotte Jean Maternity Hospital to Dunstan Hospital.

However, there would still be no obstetric services at Dunstan, she said.

‘‘We all absolutely adore Charlotte Jean and certainly don’t want to see it go, but I do think it would be better placed amongst other medical facilities, with the ability to land helicopters easily and also have other emergency services available on the premises.’’

  • The public has until August 22 to give their feedback on the options before a recommendation is made to the health board’s October meeting.

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