Southern DHB has made a significant move forward in implementing its Integrated Primary Maternity System of Care with the appointment of a programme lead.
Heather LaDell has already begun meeting with midwives, mothers, health care professionals and community groups across the district, introducing the new system of care and laying the ground work for the implementation of the new, coordinated network of primary maternity services across the district.
Helping create a sustainability package to better support the district’s community-based Lead Maternity Carer (LMC) midwifery workforce is among the first tasks being undertaken by Heather, who will also work with communities to design and develop new Maternal and Child Hubs – five across the district, each appropriate to the needs of the local community.
“I’ve been so eager to get started that I jumped right in and got out talking to people,” says Heather. “Collaboration and communication will be key to the success of the new integrated primary maternity system of care and we will work with providers, communities, new and expectant mothers, and health services to build a safe, high-quality and sustainable primary maternity system in the Southern region.”
Heather has been a midwife for nine years – emigrating from the US with her family in 2004 to attend Otago Polytechnic’s School of Midwifery and practice as a midwife in what she describes as “the best midwifery system in the world.”
In addition to her new programme lead role, Heather is also the coordinator for SDHB’s Maternity Quality and Safety Improvement Programme. In this role, she has worked with midwives to decrease perineal trauma in childbirth. She also worked with a multidisciplinary multiagency team to decrease delays in emergency maternity transfers from rural areas.
As well as working as a LMC midwife and a nurse, Heather has also been a women’s health advocate in the not-for-profit sector.
“Heather’s experience as an LMC midwife, her focus on always keeping women and their babies as the priority and her understanding of the broader health system make her the ideal person to help craft and implement the primary maternity system that has been envisioned in this plan,” Lisa Gestro, Executive Director, Strategy, Primary and Community, Southern DHB. “We look forward to supporting Heather in her work.”
About Southern DHB’s Integrated Primary Maternity System of Care
The Integrated Primary Maternity System of Care is a comprehensive, district-wide plan that has been two years in the making. It has involved significant engagement and is extensively researched and the network of interlink facilities and services laid out in our plan provides safe and effective support to mothers and their babies and will help ensure sustainability of the LMC midwifery workforce.
Southern DHB’s maternity system will have eight birthing units and five primary maternal and child hubs to support women and their babies, working with other complementary community and primary care services.
Maternal and child hubs will be developed in Wanaka, Te Anau, Lumsden, Tuatapere and Ranfurly. These are non-birthing units (except in urgent situations) that bring together resources to better support antenatal and postnatal care. The configuration of each individual Hub will be developed based on the needs of each community, and may evolve over time as the needs of the community changes.
Hubs will include clinic rooms for midwives, equipment for routine and emergency maternity, and may be co-located with other maternal and child wellbeing services. Some hubs will also be technology enabled for telehealth services for specialist consultation.
Primary birthing units are maintained at Lakes District Hospital in Queenstown, Gore Health, Oamaru Hospital and Clutha Health First in Balclutha, Winton Maternity Centre; and will continue at Charlotte Jean Maternity Hospital in Alexandra while the best long-term location of a primary birthing unit in Central Otago is explored.
Birthing units also continue alongside secondary and tertiary aternity services at Dunedin and Southland hospitals. The feasibility of a primary birthing unit in Dunedin is also being considered.