Wanaka midwife says SDHB not listening to concerns

Newborn Makai Taylor James with mother Kristi James and father Mick Coonrod. PHOTO: SUPPLIED
Newborn Makai Taylor James with mother Kristi James and father Mick Coonrod. PHOTO: SUPPLIED
A midwife who helped a Wanaka woman give birth in her office says the Southern DHB head is misinformed about what facilities are available in the town.

Kristi James had planned to have her second child at Dunedin Hospital but went into early labour last Thursday.

The Wanaka Lakes Health Centre was closed and Ms James gave birth to her son Makai in her midwife's office in the building at 4am.

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Southern DHB chief Chris Fleming said there was a procedure room, with all the necessary equipment for a primary birth, in the medical centre building.

But Ms James' midwife, Deb Harvey, told RNZ's First Up that Mr Fleming had been misinformed on what facilities were available.

"There's absolutely no primary-birth equipped procedure room in the medical centres - either of them - and they will confirm that, so he is incorrect."

Ms Harvey said she had made a plan with Ms James that if she went into labour they would meet at the clinic and decide whether it was safe to travel by private car to Dunedin. If not she would be taken by helicopter.

Her first contact last Thursday was with Ms James' partner, saying she was in early labour and that they were getting childcare organised before going to the clinic.

"Clearly by the time they arrived things had progressed rapidly and there was absolutely no chance of getting Kristi anywhere," Ms Harvey said.

"I called my colleague, she came to support and assist, informed the Dunedin obstetric team what was going on as well and then fortunately we had a baby about an hour later, so all was well."

Ms Harvey had her own home birth kit available, and grabbed towels and a sleeping bag from her car to keep Ms James and the baby warm.

She said when the medical centre was closed, she had keys only to corridors, where some equipment is kept.

Ms Harvey said there had been "delay after delay" in the DHB's plans for maternity services in the town.

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