Midwives say it's no longer viable to work in Te Aroha

The gap between the Morrinsville Rhoda Read birthing Unit which closed in 2005 and plans to build a new facility has ...
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The gap between the Morrinsville Rhoda Read birthing Unit which closed in 2005 and plans to build a new facility has been too long for midwives in the Piako District.

Midwives are worried expectant mothers may be forced to have their babies on the side of Waikato roads or are just making it into the reception areas of Hamiltons birthing units.

"The numbers of unplanned home births around Morrinsville and Te Aroha have been more common because there is nowhere to go safely," said Te Aroha-based midwife Sue van Dam.

In 2015, the Waikato District Health Board closed the Rhoda Read Birthing Unit in Morrinsville and has since then removed other facilities to assess the well being of babies for the district forcing mothers to travel to Waikato.

This means that expectant mothers from the Hauraki Plains south to Hamilton have to travel long distances to have babies in a specialised birthing unit.

Although a feasibility study is being prepared for funding for a new facility to be built in Morrinsville, which will be annexed to the new St John Ambulance facilities, van Dam and her business partner Amy Gould said they can no longer remain practicing in the area.

A midwife for 17 years based in Te Aroha, van Dam said she was supportive of the move to build a facility.

"But right at this moment for us to remain operating our business (Aroha Midwifery Care) in the area it is no longer financially viable.

"When local women book into a birthing unit in Hamilton they are often referred to a Hamilton-based midwife. So it's no longer viable for us."

Travelling to Hamilton is a long way for a busy midwife. She remembered the night she had been called out three times, in just one night.

With the women pulling out of the district it raises the question as to who would be available to deliver the unplanned births when they arrive?

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"It will be left up to emergency services such as St John, police or even the fire service," she said.

She raised a number of other issues such as the unavailability of St John Ambulance in Te Aroha after 5pm, meaning delays brought about by travel time from another centre, and there has been the unavailability of beds at birthing centres in Hamilton.

Both women agreed that when a unit is established in Morrinsville they would be prepared to return to the district.

The Phoenix Community Health group has been looking to establish a birthing unit in the district and its spokesperson, Jillian O'Neill, says it's a bit of a chicken and egg situation for Morrinsville.

We cannot get funding to build a new facility unless we can show there is a contract from the DHB but they won't issue us with a contract unless there is a facility.

Matamata-Piako Mayor Jan Barnes is still supportive of a new facility but questions the business model for Morrinsville after it was turned down initially by the DHB.

She thinks it needs to reflect the model of the Te Awamutu birthing centre where the midwives own the business.

 - Stuff

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