10 May 2023

Health service bolsters region’s midwifery team

| Matt Nicholls
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Genavie Tabuai, Annette Ritchie, Natalie Thaiday and Lisa Smith are members of the new TCHHS midwifery navigation service team.

THE Torres and Cape Hospital and Health Service has established a new non-clinical midwifery navigation service to provide additional support to women travelling to Cairns to give birth.

TCHHS nurse navigators manager Rachel Sargeant said the service would work with women from Cape York and the Torres Strait and support them to navigate the system as easily and smoothly as possible.

“The new service is designed for women who must travel to Cairns to access specialist obstetric and maternity services not available at our local maternity services within the region,” she said.

“We expect the new service will benefit between 250 and 300 women a year who travel from the Torres Strait, Cape York and Northern Peninsula Area to Cairns.

“Our team of two midwifery consultants (navigation) and two senior Indigenous health workers will additionally support women before, during and after their journey to Cairns to give birth.”

Ms Sargeant said local birthing services in the Torres and Cape region allowed women who did not have a complex medical and obstetric history and who did not experience a complex antenatal period, to be cared for locally if they choose.

“But women with higher risk pregnancies, or other specialised needs, will continue to travel to Cairns or another larger centre to give birth for their and their babies’ safety,” she said.

Ms Sargeant said the midwifery navigation service would help provide extra, wrap-around support to manage these women’s journeys from start to finish.

“Our team will help women access clinical and other appointments, ensure they have appropriate and culturally safe understanding and advocacy regarding their care choices, provide emotional, social and wellbeing support, ensure all health checks are undertaken and ensure a smooth transition home,” she said.

“They will contact individual women, in partnership with their known midwifery group practice midwife, prior to their journey to Cairns and have at least two telehealth meetings (where feasible) in advance, so the women get to know our team beforehand.

“By the time the women arrive in Cairns to give birth, they will have a known and friendly face on the ground here to support them through their birthing journey.

“Our midwifery navigation services team will provide liaison and enable communication pathways with the midwives in the women’s own communities, as well as the maternity team at Cairns Hospital and other non-government organisations such Apunipima Cape York Health Council, Mookai Rosie and other services.

“We are committed to culturally safe midwifery service provision across the region.

“As such, we want to ensure accessible and sustainable comprehensive and innovative maternity services well into the future that are responsive to the needs of all women residing in our health service region.”

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