Well, it happened again ... another baby born in Central Otago in a less than ideal location. We’ve now had three since May 27.
Kristi James, of Hāwea Flat, had every intention of following expert advice to have her baby in Dunedin Hospital. Instead, she had it on the floor of her midwife's office in Wanaka.
Baby comes when baby comes, and this baby came four days early so Kristi was edging it. But Dunedin is a long way from Hāwea Flat, which is about 15 minutes drive out of Wanaka and an hour from Cromwell.
What’s worrying here is that this was Kristi’s second baby and the first was born by caesarean so there was a greater chance that a caesarean
could be required.
Of course, there are no facilities in Wanaka to carry out a caesarean, nor in Cromwell. If the baby had not arrived within in a certain time, the plan was for Ms James to travel an hour to Dunedin by helicopter.
Of course, this follows two other babies born in the Lumsden area, while their Mum’s were on the road looking for specialist help. That was after the replacement of the Lumsden Maternity Centre, which was a primary birthing unit, with a maternal and child hub in April
Now we know that Wanaka struggles to retain midwives because of the workload, the poor pay and cost of housing. But Wanaka is changing and younger families are increasing. If it’s good enough for some KiwiBuild homes for first home buyers, then you would think it would have better obstetric facilities.
Actually the same could go for Cromwell, whose hospital also lacks obstetrics facilities. There are 5000 people in Cromwell, nearly 9000 in Wanaka, and Hāwea is beginning to grow. Lovely places but don’t live there if you’re a breeder.
Rural and regional healthcare is in a perilous place. Add on an urban GP shortage, crowded emergency departments at hospitals for non urgent cases, an aged care staffing crisis and you have to say we as a country are getting worse at looking after each other and keeping ourselves alive.
After the Wellbeing Budget, mental health got some love. Our primary health care sector is also very sick and needs more than a band aid.