Birthing facility for Wanaka ‘game-changer’ for women

Albert Town is located to the east of Wanaka. It is expected about half of the 180-200 women in...
Albert Town is located to the east of Wanaka. It is expected about half of the 180-200 women in the area cared for by lead maternity midwives will use the facility. PHOTO: ODT FILES
Wanaka expectant parents and midwives will soon have the choice to deliver a baby closer to home, after confirmation that a primary birthing facility will be set up in the town.

Wanaka, which has a rapidly-rising young population, was slated to have a unit as part of the Southern District Health Board’s controversial review of maternity services in Central Otago.

However, little obvious progress had been made since that November 2020 announcement.

Health New Zealand Southern yesterday confirmed it had bought premises for the unit, understood to be in Albert Town.

After renovations, it will incorporate one birthing room and three postnatal stay rooms.

It is expected about half of the 180-200 women in the area cared for by lead maternity midwives will use the facility.

Wanaka midwife Emily Sancha said she was thrilled by yesterday’s announcement.

"Everyone is totally stoked. It has been a long time coming."

It seemed that the new facility would meet their and expectant mothers’ requirements, she said.

"I think it could be a bit of a game changer for local women."

Waitaki National MP Jacqui Dean, who has strongly lobbied for a primary birthing facility to be built in Wanaka, said news of the purchase of a site was very pleasing.

"I understand the facility is pretty suitable for the purpose intended, so now I hope that Health New Zealand Southern don’t sit on their hands and set it up properly.

"My fear with the change to Health New Zealand [from the Southern DHB] is that there could be delay in commissioning the new facility.

They need to get it up and running as soon as possible."

Southern acting primary maternity services manager Hannah Gentile said the facility would be a valuable community resource.

"It will dramatically cut down their travel time to a birthing facility and allowing for midwifery model of care which meets the needs of the community, on their own doorstep."

Southern midwifery director Karen Ferraccioli said the new unit was part of a wider maternity picture, and that work was continuing from the planned transfer in early 2024 of the Central Otago Maternity Unit to a brand-new purpose-built facility in Clyde, alongside Dunstan Hospital.

mike.houlahan@odt.co.nz

 

 

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