by S Lowe 5THE FM newsonline wattlerangenow
Doting parents of a brand new baby born just days ago, decided to speak to us about their recent birthing experience and their disappointment that an event that should have been such a happy one, instead was very traumatic. Over a period of four days, they had two trips to Millicent Hospital, two trips to Mt Gambier hospital and three days with out sleep because she couldn’t deliver at Millicent Hospital due to the closure of Obstetric Services.
Their details have been provided but the family has decided to remain anonymous.
The young couple were eagerly awaiting the birth of their second child and found, as parents often do, their new baby would announce its imminent arrival about 4am. They went to the Millicent Hospital to make sure it was labour and not a false alarm.
Dr James Bushell (Medical Clinic Millicent) examined the mother and checked her contractions on the monitor. Excited Mum-to-be had photo with the thumbs up sign taken to send to extended family. They had every reason to believe their new baby would arrive very soon but it was several days and several hundred kilometres before they welcomed their new arrival.
New Mum tells her story:- “When we arrived at the Millicent Hospital, Dr Bushell advised me to stay there for about an hour to see how my labour progressed, whether it would continue and whether it would be safe to travel to Mt Gambier if it did.”
“The mid-wife said I had to be transferred to Mt Gambier immediately.”
“My husband drove me to Mt Gambier Hospital and they said I was ready to push, however this did not happen.”
“I didn’t feel welcome, the staff did not introduce themselves to me, and I didn’t know who was looking after me. I just thought that some of the staff really don’t want to be there or didn’t want me there.”
“The doctor on duty came to see me and he made me feel that I was making a fuss about nothing. He kept saying to me, if you go into labour. This was confusing because I was already in labour.”
“Dr Bushell had scheduled me for an induction the following week but I had gone into labour early in my 38th week. When I had my first baby, my labour didn’t progress until my waters broke so we had decided, during my pregnancy, that an induction would be the best option.”
“I think the doctor in Mt Gambier thought I was just there for an induction and he didn’t approve.I wanted him to call Dr Bushell to get my history, and he said he would but he didn’t call Dr Bushell.”
“I was still having contractions; they were 10-15 minutes apart and were very painful. I asked the doctor for a sleeping tablet but it didn’t help.”
“When my first baby was born, I suffered with post-natal depression and it has left me with some anxiety. I began to get anxious. “
“Because of my previous history, Dr Bushell wanted to avoid any trauma to make sure I had the best chance of a happy time with my new baby’s birth.”
“My husband went to a Motel in Mt Gambier because there was nowhere for him to wait with me at the hospital.”
“The hospital room was dark, I had no buzzer.”
“I got up through the night to get a drink from the kitchen and walked passed the nurses station where six staff were sitting. They watched me walk past but never acknowledged me, they never spoke or asked if I needed anything.”
“No-one came to check on me all night, I never saw a mid-wife all night.”
“I hoped Dr Bushell would be able to deliver my baby at Mt Gambier Hospital because he had applied for admitting rights but we were told that he had admitting rights for public patients only and because I was a private patient, I could not have Dr Bushell. It was after- hours and nothing could be done about the paperwork. Even as a private patient I couldn’t have my own doctor.”
Her husband arrived at 8-00 am the next morning and the doctor on duty came to see her at 10-00 am, she told me.
“The doctor kept asking me what I wanted to do.”
“He wasn’t sure what he was allowed to do, I think the doctors have lost all control in the hospitals, and the staff (midwives) control it all.”
“By this time I was crying and told them to get this drip out. I’m leaving.”
“My husband had a TALK with the doctor and we decided to leave.”
I said, “I’m finding another hospital to have my baby, I’m leaving.”
“I was broken hearted, having this baby was meant to be a happy time and we were looking forward to it so much.”
“We just walked out of the hospital (Mt Gambier), no discharge, no communication, nothing.”
“We went home and I spent that day and another night in labour and with no sleep again.”
“I was told at the Mt Gambier Hospital that the contractions I was having can sometime last months so I began to doubt myself and wonder if I was being silly, but they were still very painful and intense.”
“At 4am that morning we went into the Millicent Hospital again and Dr Bushell examined me and told me I was definitely in labour. He said he would monitor me to make sure I was safe to travel.”
There was no midwife on duty and the Director of Nursing could not be contacted by phone to get permission to call a midwife.
“I don’t think she will be paid because she didn’t have permission to come in but she came at 5am just to take care of me. She helped me a lot.”
“I will always be grateful to her and to Dr Bushell. I was exhausted and anxious. Dr Bushell was my saviour, we don’t know what we would have done if he had not been available to take care of us.”
“My labour continued and my waters broke about 6-30am so Dr Bushell advised me to go to Mt Gambier and called an ambulance. We had to wait quite a while for one to come from Mt Gambier.”
“Dr Bushell said I would have my baby soon after I arrived at Mt Gambier. He had looked after me all through my pregnancy but was not able to deliver for me. We were all upset. He said to my husband, she should not have to go though this.”
“The ambulance officers were lovely to me but being strapped on the stretcher in advanced labour for the trip to Mt Gambier was not good – I felt every bump in the road and I was so tired from over 48 hours with out sleep.”
The baby was born about 30 minutes after arriving at the Mt Gambier Hospital and the new mum told me the staff attending to her were very kind, including the doctor delivering. She said it was a relief after her previous experience.
“Our baby was born at 38 weeks and was 8 lb. Dr Bushell had told us to expect a big baby.”
“Not long after I was back in my room I began haemorrhaging. I think the nurse got scared, she just ran from the room with out a word to me and this scared me. I was treated and the haemorrhaging stopped.”
“I was discharged from the hospital 4 ½ hours after giving birth and travelled back to Millicent Hospital by private car with my husband and new baby.”
“I was welcomed and taken care of. There was no midwife on duty that day but one came the following day and checked us both out. If I had given birth there I would have stayed but I felt too anxious just being in a hospital and decided to go home. I was fed up.”
“Having my baby was a traumatic experience, I am still traumatised by it, and I still have nightmares. We are both healthy and we love our new baby so much, but it should not have been like this.”
Baby’s Uncle said “It’s not fair, our doctors do the hard yards and then they get left out at the delivery. Mt Gambier just wants the delivery dollars and then they are happy to send new mums and babies back to Millicent in a private car to recover. How long will it be before a stressed new dad-to-be will have an accident, they are speeding to get to the hospital, and they are afraid they’ll have a baby on the side of the road. I want to have a family one day and I don’t want to go through what my brother went through.”
I asked the new Dad how this experience affected him.
“I was stressed, concerned about my wife and baby, I felt helpless, confused. There was no communication with us as patients down there; we didn’t know what to do. They didn’t know us or our history and kept asking us if we wanted to stay or leave. How were we supposed to know?”
“My parents brought our other child to see her mother and new baby sibling and they weren’t allowed in because it wasn’t visiting hours. They cooled off in the coffee shop and then asked again, explaining that their grand daughter wanted to see her mother and they were allowed in.”
At his wife’s prompting he said, “I was vomiting in our car while I was driving behind the ambulance on the way to Mt Gambier, from stress and worry. I drove 400K back and forth between hospitals and home during those three days, it was just constant worry and fear.”
“It takes a while to get over something like this,” he said.
Editors Note:- I was privileged to be trusted with this young family’s story, who hope by telling it, will prevent other new parents from the same experience and hope Obstetric Services will be re-instated at the Millicent Hospital. The couple who have shared their story said their criticism is about the closure of services not the staff.
Country Health SA (CHSA) announced the closure of Obstetric Services at the Millicent Hospital in the middle of last year 2013, despite public outcry and a public meeting attended by 650 community members and a petition signed by thousands of people from the wider community. CHSA said at that meeting that they would re-enter negotiations with the Medical Clinic Millicent GP’s to find a way to keep the service open. That has not been the case and all births are referred to Mt Gambier Hospital.