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Waitakere maternity service marks 50 years of babies

Waitakere maternity service marks 50 years of babies

Waitakere Hospital’s maternity service commemorates its 50th anniversary this week with a range of celebrations underway.

Over the last 50 years, the maternity service at Waitakere has greeted the arrival of more than 50,000 new Aucklanders.

As part of celebrations, more than 100 submissions were supplied by members of the public to a twoweek long exhibition now underway at the main entrance foyer of the hospital. These submissions feature stories and photographs of those born in the maternity unit, or who gave birth there.

Waitemata DHB chief executive Dr Dale Bramley says the exhibition is a fitting tribute to a service that has been an integral part of the west Auckland community for many years.

“It’s only appropriate that we celebrate this milestone by sharing some of the wonderful personal stories and memories west Aucklanders have of the unit.

“I’d also like to take this opportunity to thank our maternity staff at waitakere – many of them long serving – who make such a significant contribution to our community through their work on a daytoday basis,” says Dr Bramley.

As part of anniversary celebrations, five permanent photographs were also unveiled in the hospital’s maternity unit. The photos feature some of the unit’s most memorable guests, including:

Rodney Heuthorst, the first baby born in the unit 50 years ago

Titirangi mum of 14 Jane McAllister, who had the most babies born in the unit

Actor/director Angela Bloomfield (of Shortland Street fame) who had her two children there

Long serving staff members Maureen Harrison, Susan Cluitt and Estelle Swindells, who

between them have 90 years of service and delivered hundreds of Waitakere babies

Phoenix FoutanuTamatoa, the first baby born on the unit’s actual anniversary day (6 June)

A selection of maternity staff uniforms from the past 50 years will also be on display at the hospital.

The activities mark an important milestone for the maternity unit, which began life in 1964 as the Waitakere Maternity Hospital, a fourstory building with a delivery suite and three wards.

As the population in west Auckland grew, so too did health services. The biggest physical change occurred in 2002 when construction began on a $60 million redevelopment of Waitakere Hospital.

The new hospital was completed in 2004 and today Waitakere Hospital is a provider of primary and secondary maternity facilities for women, with eight birthing rooms, two postnatal wards with a total of 36 beds, and a Special Care Baby Unit for babies born early.

Community services are also delivered out of the hospital, including midwifery services, antenatal classes, childbirth education and lactation consultant clinics.

The original maternity building – now called the Snelgar building – still remains on the Waitakere Hospital site.

It is used for a range of local health services and also houses the Waitakere campus for Awhina, Waitemata DHB’s research, teaching and learning division.

The building is also home to the Simulation Centre, a sophisticated hightech clinical training facility with the key features of a fully operating hospital environment, enabling students to learn, practice and observe.

The site continues to expand to cater for the growing population in west Auckland. New developments underway include a $9.8 million expansion of Waitakere Hospital’s emergency department which will see it almost double in size, along with plans to upgrade the existing maternity facilities.

It follows a significant programme of investment in west Auckland over recent years, with the delivery of projects such as the major expansion and upgrade of the Rangatira Paediatric Unit, the provision of 247 emergency care at the emergency department, the addition of a new endoscopy suite and the development of the Awhina Health Campus in conjunction with Unitec.


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