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Sod turning brings new maternity unit closer

3 March 2014

Sod turning brings new maternity unit closer

Whangarei’s maternity unit is one shovelful of dirt closer to becoming a family-centred birthing facility after the turning of the sod today.

Around 40 attendees gathered on the construction site for the karakia, waiata, speeches and to witness chief executive Dr Nick Chamberlain and Northland DHB staff member and new mum Stephanie Barclay turn the soil.

Dr Chamberlain said he had worked onsite for the last 26 years and the quality of the maternity service had not changed.

“I was born here and my two children were born here and, if I’m lucky, I might have one more baby here.”

Local MP Phil Heatley said he and his three children were also born in the current facility. “There is no question about the standard of care here and I think (the new facility) will only enhance that.”

The current maternity facility was built 40 years ago and Northland DHB child, youth, maternal, public and oral health services general manager Jeanette Wedding said a new maternity unit has been in the pipeline for around 13 years.

“We are really pleased that it is finally coming to fruition. There are three different parts to maternity: antenatal outpatients, delivery suite and post natal wards. Combining them makes more sense for a better standard of work environment.”

The yet-to-be-named facility will co-locate antenatal clinics, assessment rooms, birthing rooms and post-natal beds that are currently spread over two floors in the hospital. It will include a High-Dependency Unit and central staff base. Instead of the current four-bedded rooms, the new facility will consist of mostly one and two-bedded rooms with ensuites. It also features a three-bedded Acute Care Unit for complex antenatal and postnatal care, assessment rooms, four antenatal clinic rooms, a dedicated birthing room for stillbirth or neonatal loss and a central reception area.

The family-friendly maternity unit complies with Australasian health facility guidelines and the design has been completed with the assistance of midwives, consumer representatives and design consultants. ‘Mock-up’ rooms were created so they could look and walk through the actual sized space, with fixtures and fittings in place such as the delivery room, complete with a pool.

Consumer representative Jess Radovanovich said, based on Facebook feedback, the two main requests for a new maternity unit had been clean bathrooms and having the option of a support person stay overnight.

“I’ve had two children already and, unfortunately, I’m not going to get to use this (facility). I would love to have had the opportunity, however, I’m looking forward to my family and friends using it.”

Other speakers included Northland DHB deputy board chair Sally Macauley, who pointed out that there are five babies born in Northland each day and described it as an “exciting day in Northland”; and reverend Susan Green, who declared:
“This is the day that the lord has made and the women replied ‘Hallelujah’.”

The new unit is expected to officially open in early 2015.


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